Showing posts with label Mass Shootings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mass Shootings. Show all posts

January 30, 2017

5 Dead in Mosque Shooting in Quebec City, Two Arrested

File: Mosque in Bkln

The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a "terrorist attack on Muslims", said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge," Trudeau said in a statement.

Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, the mosque's president told reporters on Sunday. A witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center.

"Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque's president, Mohamed Yangui.

Quebec police said there were many victims and deaths, but did not confirm the death toll. They said two people had been arrested, but there were no immediate details on the suspects.

A witness said a heavily armed police tactical squad was seen entering the three-storey mosque. Police declined to say whether there was a gunman inside the mosque at the time.

Police tweeted later that the situation was under control and that the mosque had been secured and occupants evacuated.

Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.

"Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families," Trudeau tweeted earlier in the night.

The shooting came on the weekend that Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States on national security grounds.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police were providing additional protection for mosques in that city following the Quebec shooting. "All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something," he tweeted.

Canada's federal Liberal legislator Greg Fergus tweeted: "This is an act of terrorism -- the result of years of demonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!"


Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants.

In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural center.

"We are not safe here," said Mohammed Oudghiri, who normally attends prayers at the mosque in the middle-class, residential area, but not on Sunday.

Oudghiri said he had lived in Quebec for 42 years but was now "very worried" and thinking of moving back to Morocco.


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Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and news of the shooting sent a shockwave through mosques and community centers throughout the mostly French-language province.

"It’s a sad day for all Quebecers and Canadians to see a terrorist attack happen in peaceful Quebec City," said Mohamed Yacoub, co-chairman of an Islamic community center in a Montreal suburb. "I hope it’s an isolated incident."

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the center had received threats.

"In June, they'd put a pig's head in front of the mosque. But we thought: 'Oh, they're isolated events.' We didn't take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope," she said.

Bendjeddou said she had not yet confirmed the names of those killed, but added: "They're people we know, for sure. People we knew since they were little kids.”

(Reporting by Kevin Dougherty in Quebec City; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Andrea Hopkins and David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Peter Cooney)

New Information on the suspects:

Canadian police have named the two suspects who were arrested in connection to a deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada.
Quebec City court clerk Isabelle Ferland named the suspects as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir.
The two men allegedly opened fire at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday night, leaving six people dead.
One suspect was arrested at the scene and a second suspect called 911 to give himself up, police said on Monday.
Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Media captionA Muslim leader in the city says he is not surprised by the attack
Who are the suspects?
The two men, believed to be in their 20s or early 30s, had no prior police record before the incident, authorities said.
Police are also investigating reports that the two men were students at a local university.
The second suspect was apprehended in his car on a bridge leading to Orleans island, according to police.
Police have yet to give a motive for the shootings, citing an ongoing investigation.
Canadian authorities said they did not believe there were any additional suspects and they were confident that the threat was "under control".

December 20, 2016

Relatives of the Pulse Shooting Victims Suing Facebook, Twitter, Google

Relatives of three people killed in the June shooting attack at an Orlando nightclub sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google's YouTube Monday, accusing the social media sites of recklessly allowing ISIS to use them for recruiting terrorists.

Without them, "the explosive growth if ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," said their lawyer, Keith Altman of Southfield, Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by family members of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Guerrero. They were among 49 people killed when Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando's pulse nightclub on June 12. Mateen was killed by responding police.

The relatives say the social media companies have for years provided ISIS with accounts to use their networks "as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits."

The companies are well aware of the problem, the lawsuit says, but have done little to stop it.

Their complaint, filed in federal court in Michigan where some of the family members live, quotes Twitter founder Biz Stone says saying "if you want to create a platform that allows for the freedom of expression for hundreds of millions of people around the world, you really have to take the good with the bad."

They claim the companies could easily block known ISIS recruiters from simply opening new accounts after they are discovered and shut down. It also says the companies place ads on the ISIS postings, profiting from terrorist messages.
The FBI has said that Mateen was radicalized in part through the Internet, and he pledged allegiance to ISIS during a lull in the shooting spree.

But investigators have said he also praised other terror groups, claimed his had family connections to al Qaeda, and said he was a member of Hezbollah, a bitter enemy of ISIS.

Altman filed a similar lawsuit in June on behalf of the family of an American student killed during the November 2015 terror attack in Paris.

But in January, a lawsuit against Twitter brought the widow of an American killed in Jordan in an ISIS attack on a police training center was dismissed. The judge said such lawsuits are barred by a federal law, the Communications Decency Act, which provides that web sites cannot be held legally responsible for the content posted by their users.

Legal experts said the latest lawsuit will face a similar hurdle.

In response to the earlier lawsuits, the companies said their rules make clear that violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on their platforms and said the suits were without merit.


September 24, 2016

Gunman at Large Fatally Shoots 5 Inside Mall Near Seattle

Apprehended on early morning

Law enforcement officers work at the crime scene outside of Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., where five people were fatally shot on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.

 The first 911 call came in just before 7 p.m. on a busy Friday night at the Cascade Mall: A man with a rifle was shooting at people in the Macy's Department Store.
By the time police arrived moments later, the carnage at the Macy's makeup counter was complete. Four people were dead and the shooter was gone, last seen walking toward Interstate 5. A fifth victim, a man, died in the early morning hours Saturday as police finished sweeping the 434,000-square-foot building.
"There are people waking up this morning and their world has changed forever. The city of Burlington has probably changed forever, but I don't think our way life needs to change," Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said Saturday at a news conference. "This was a senseless act. It was the world knocking on our doorstep and it came into our little community."
As the small city absorbed the news, critical questions remained, including the identity of the shooter, his motive and his whereabouts. A massive manhunt continued and police broadcast a plea for tips. The FBI said terrorism was not suspected.
The gunman was described by witnesses to police as a young Hispanic man dressed in black. Surveillance video captured him entering the mall unarmed and then recorded him about 10 minutes later entering the Macy's with a "hunting type" rifle in his hand, Mount Vernon Police Lt. Chris Cammock said.
Authorities did not say how the suspect may have obtained the weapon - whether he retrieved it from outside or picked it up in the mall — but they believe he acted alone. The weapon was recovered at the scene.
The identities of the victims — four women who ranged in age from a teenager to a senior citizen — were withheld pending autopsies and notification of family. The identity of the man who was fatally shot was also withheld.
"Probably one of the most difficult moments for us last night was knowing that there were family members wondering about their loved ones in there," Cammock said.
As police scrambled to find the shooter, this small city about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Seattle settled into a new and nerve-wracking reality.
The community of 8,600 people is too far from Seattle to be a commuter town, but its population swells to 55,000 during the day because of a popular outlet mall, retail stores and other businesses. Burlington is the only major retail center within 30 miles (48 kilometers) in a region where agriculture is king, said Linda Jones, the president of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
Surrounding Skagit County has deep agricultural roots and is home to families that have worked the land for generations. Farmers produce about $300 million worth of more than 90 different crops a year — a heritage that's celebrated each October with tours of family farms that attract thousands, according to Washington State University's agricultural extension.
Residents, rattled by the fact that the shooter was still on the loose, relied on those bonds Saturday to comfort each other at a community gathering in a city park.
"It's too scary. It's too close to home," said Maria Elena Vasquez, who attended the gathering with her husband and two young children.
"I'm a little nervous even taking her to her soccer game today with this person still on the loose. But I want to keep it normal for her," she said of her 7-year-old daughter.
Those who survived were still trying to process what happened as their community became the latest entry on a list of places known by the rest of world for mass shootings.
As the shots rang out, shoppers hid in dressing rooms and bathrooms and made hushed, terrified phone calls to relatives. One woman started running with her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter only to slip and fall — and then watch as the shooter strode past her terrified children, KIRO-TV reported on its Twitter feed.
"We have never been so scared in our lives," the woman texted the station.
Joanne Burkholder, 19, of nearby Mount Vernon, was watching the movie "The Magnificent Seven" in the mall's theater when security guards came in and told them to evacuate immediately. Dozens of panicked moviegoers gathered in the hallway, and Burkholder heard screaming as the officers escorted them to safety in a parking lot.
As she drove home later, she had to pull over because she was shaking so hard, she told The Associated Press.
"I'm just very thankful for my life this morning. I've never been so terrified in my life," she said Saturday, trying to hold back tears as she attended the community vigil.
"You'd think it would happen in Everett or Seattle, but a small town of Burlington, I'd never dream something like this would happen."
This video image provided by Skagit County Department of Emergency Management shows a suspect wanted by the authorities regarding a shooting at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash.
 This is the image of the suspect wanted by Police
The parking lot was closed Saturday and emergency management officials told people they would be able to retrieve vehicles later in the day, though the mall was shuttered.
The Cascade Mall is an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1990. It features J.C. Penney, TJ Maxx, and Macy's stores, among other stores, restaurants and a movie theater.
On Sept. 17, a man stabbed 10 people at a Minnesota mall before being shot and killed by an off-duty police officer. Authorities say Dahir Ahmed Adan, 20, stabbed the people at the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud.

September 23, 2016

Omar Mateen Went into Pulse to kill Gays Like Him to Impress Gay Hating Dad

Crime Watch Daily has exclusive new insight into Omar Mateen, who shot up an Orlando nightclub, killing 49 people. Mateen's ex-wife sits down to tell her story to Crime Watch Daily's new special correspondent, Kim Goldman.
Sitora Yusufiy has found peace of mind and a new life in pristine Boulder, Colorado, but one thing she’s never able to escape is her association to the man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history. Mass-murderer Omar Mateen stormed into popular Orlando, Florida gay nightclub Pulse on June 12 and gunned down 49 innocent souls, wounding 53 others. A bullet-riddled Mateen goes to his grave in a shootout with police SWAT teams. 
Was the New York-born Muslim actually an ISIS sympathizer hell-bent on a jihadi one-way ticket to martyrdom? A self-hating gay man? Or something else?

"He never was sexually interested," said Sitora Yusufiy.

Now finally the one person who wants to set the record straight on what she believes is the motive behind the most horrific mass shooting in modern American history.

 "When I heard that he pledged to ISIS, I immediately know that was nonsense, because I knew Omar," said Yusufiy.

Sitora Yusufiy believes her ex-husband was gay and continually tormented by what she calls his homophobic father, Seddique Mateen. Sitora says Omar lived life in the shadows.
Yusufi tells Crime Watch Daily she is absolutely adamant her ex's pledge to ISIS in the midst of the horror was a ruse. Sitora says he was really just out to win the approval of his dad, who often publicly disparaged gays.
Crime Watch Daily went to Seddique Mateen’s home to ask him about his former daughter-in-law’s claims, but he did not want to talk to us.

Sitora claims much of Mateen's anger came from what she describes as his turbulent relationship with what she calls his homophobic father, who Sitora claims often taunted him about being gay.
Sitora says living a lie triggered the rage in her husband, and before his now-infamous attack, that rage was often directed at her.
Sitora tells Kim Goldman she became a virtual hostage in her own home. Her worried parents drove to Florida to check on her. It was time to get her out. They drove off together after a confrontation with Omar, and Sitora got an emergency ticket to New Jersey the next day.
Sitora now reveals Mateen actually tried to reconnect not long ago. The terror hit her all over again. Sitora says she has never looked back. 
But now for the first time, she is sharing a painful secret: She was once pregnant with Omar Mateen's child. It's a secret she's carried for seven long years. 
"He was happy about it but I told him that if he wanted to make things work, he had to find the courage to come to Jersey to apologize, to do whatever it takes to win my family and myself back, and he never did," said Sitora. "He never made an effort to do that."
Sitora says she made the difficult choice to terminate the pregnancy. 
But out of ashes of tragedy rose a resilient Sitora. The portrait artist has rebuilt her life and is happily married, and the couple is now expecting their first child. 
As for Omar Mateen's father, in recent interviews he has condemned his son's actions, calling what he did an "act or terror." Seddique Mateen has also been adamant that he does not believe his son was gay.

July 11, 2016

Does the Killing of 5 Police Officers Signals Spiraling Violence? The numbers!


The shooting of 12 police officers in Dallas on Thursday suggests spiraling violence: The cops were shot during a protest against the shooting of black men by police. A vicious circle of retribution would be something new for the U.S. where, unlike in other developed countries, killings by police far outnumber officer deaths in the line of duty.

The point that police kill more people in the U.S. than in European countries has often been made. It's intuitively understandable: American cops have to deal with armed criminals more often because guns are more widely available, and the dominant culture is pro-gun, so people have less of a problem using weapons. For all that, however, relatively few officers get killed.

Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics of "justifiable homicide" by law enforcement officers indicate that in 2010-14, the average number of fatal shootings by police was 428 per year (the number has been hovering around 400 for much longer than that). Also according to the FBI, about 50 officers per year are killed in the line of duty. That's already a rather high ratio of inflicted to suffered casualties -- and it disregards the insufficiency of the "justifiable homicide" data; The Washington Post, for example, calculates that a total of 965 people were fatally shot by police in 2015. 

In countries where killings of every kind are not as frequent -- in fact, so infrequent that it even makes little sense to correct the statistics for factors such as population or number of officers -- the ratios are much lower. 

In the U.K., a total of 250 officers have been fatally shot since 1945. That's fewer than four per year. Police, who are usually unarmed, shoot even fewer civilians. Since 1990, they have killed a total of 60 people -- a little more than two per year. 

In Germany, officers are usually armed. Last year, they shot eight people -- about the average number for the last 10 years. Between 1945 and 2011, some 392 German police officers died in the line of duty -- about 6 per year, although there have been fewer deaths in recent years. 

In France, there's a dearth of statistics on police killings. By one count, 54 people were killed by officers between 2005 and 2015, about five a year; and between six and 13 officers have died in the line of duty each year in 2008-15.

With absolute numbers so small, it's difficult to make statistical comparisons with the U.S. Rather, one could say that the killings of and by officers are extraordinary incidents in western Europe, and comparable, small numbers of cops and suspects die at each other's hands. 

What's at stake in the U.S. is the all-important preservation of police legitimacy -- a key concept in today's criminology concerning trust in law enforcement and the perceived obligation to obey the police. Any diminution would produce a precarious situation.

In the wake of the Dallas shootings, it would be a normal human reaction for U.S. cops to get even tougher, to avenge their fallen comrades. Yet what's needed is a de-escalation. There will still be crazed criminals who kill cops -- but perhaps in time a less violent culture will develop as a basis for strengthened law-enforcement legitimacy.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at

June 30, 2016

Gay Men Chased from Their Homes After Signing Memorial Book on Orlando Victims


Image result for ivory coast gay men

Signing condolences to
the family of victims of the Orlando Massacre above.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Gay men in Ivory Coast say they've been assaulted and forced to flee their homes after the U.S. Embassy published a photo of them signing a condolence book for victims of this month’s/// killings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The photo, published on the embassy's website, shows the faces of six men with the caption "LGBTI community signing the condolence book." It was taken at the embassy on June 16, the same day Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and other officials signed the book in honor of the 49 people killed in the Orlando attack.

The photo has been widely shared on social media and two of the men said that in the days after it was published an angry mob punched and kicked them while shouting anti-gay slurs. The men spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for their safety.

Four of the six men, including the two attacked, said they have fled their homes under pressure from family and friends who had been unaware of their sexual orientation.
The men said they were not contacted before the photo was published. However the U.S. embassy did contact the heads of three Ivory Coast organizations that advocate for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to press officer Elizabeth Ategou. Those activists gave their approval, but they were not in the photo or at the embassy event.

Ategou said the embassy "deeply regrets that any individuals were attacked based on any kind of orientation they might have." She said the embassy was in contact with the men and encouraged them to report the attacks to police.

The head of one gay rights group who approved the photo, and who also insisted on anonymity for his safety, said he would not have approved it had he known those pictured would be identified so explicitly as members of the "LGBTI community."
The photo remained on the embassy's website Wednesday. Ategou said the embassy had received no requests to take it down.

Same-sex relations are not a crime in Ivory Coast, but there are no legal protections for sexual minorities. In January 2014, a mob ransacked the Abidjan headquarters of the country’s most prominent gay rights organization.

The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan has strengthened ties with the country’s LGBT activists following an Obama administration memorandum in 2011 that empowered "all agencies engaged abroad" to promote and protect the human rights of sexual minorities.

June 27, 2016

Orlando Shooter Was Gay First Terrorist Second

                                                                           The man, who did not want to be 
The man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel 

A man who claims he had a "friend with benefits" relationship with Omar Mateen insisted the shooting was not because of any Islamic extremist tendencies but instead was revenge against an HIV-positive lover.

Mateen's shocking attack on the Pulse nightclub in Florida two weeks ago left 49 people dead and dozens more injured in the single deadliest mass shooting on US soil.

In an interview on Wednesday, the man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel.

He said the reasons behind the massacre could be traced back to a threesome with two Puerto Rican men.
The man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel
He told Univision he met Mateen last year through a gay dating app and began a relationship soon after. 

Miguel said the sexual relationship lasted about two months and they met at a hotel in Orlando about 20 times.

Univision revealed that a representative for the hotel confirmed Mateen was a familiar face at the hotel during the period in question.

Miguel then provided lurid details about Mateen’s sexual encounters – one of which he said led to the shooting itself.

Mateen was allegedly upset after a threesome with two Puerto Rican men went wrong when one of the men revealed he was HIV positive.

Miguel told Univision anchor Maria Elenas Salinas: "Omar was terrified that he was infected.
"I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test, it came out negative but it doesn’t come out right away. It takes four, five months."

Miguel believes Mateen intentionally targeted Latinos in retribution for this HIV incident and for the other times his sexual advances were rejected by Puerto Ricans.

He said: "I believe this is not terrorism. He hated gay Puerto Ricans for all the stuff they did to him.

"I believe this crazy horrible thing he did was for revenge."

He told Univision that he met Mateen last year through a gay dating app
There has long been speculation about the gunman's sexuality as a reason behind the shooting – despite Mateen's declared support for ISIS during the tragedy.

One patron of the Pulse nightclub, Jim Van Horn, 71, said Mateen was a "regular" there.

Ty Smith remembered seeing Mateen at Pulse about a dozen times.

He said: "Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself."

His ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy also claimed that the shooter may have been gay.

She told Time: “He might have been homosexual himself and lived that lifestyle but could never ever come clean about it because of the standards of his father, because of the obligation to be a perfect son."
He said Mateen was upset after a threesome with two Puerto Rican men
Miguel added that Mateen never appeared to be violent. He said the 29-year-old was "looking for love" and "loved to be cuddled".

Miguel described Mateen as a "devout Muslim" but one who believed that the religion was "about love" and "welcomed everybody".

Univision claimed the FBI had spoken with the man named Miguel, but a law enforcement official would neither confirm nor deny this to CBS News.

The official did admit Mateen was a frequent user of online dating sites seeking relationships with both men and women.


June 20, 2016

FL Gov.Scott with Hollow Minutes of Silence but Never Mentioning the Victims were Gay

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott(above in picture) held a news conference on the mass shootings in Orlando without once acknowledging what by then was clear — that the killer’s targets were principally gay men — many people took notice, especially those in the state’s large, vocal and organized LGBT community.

Over the next two days, they made their feelings of dismay and disbelief plain in a deluge of tweets and social-media postings. Only then did Scott, a conservative Republican whose active opposition to legal marriage for gays and lesbians had not endeared him to the community, issue a statement alluding to the obvious.

“We pray for our LGBT community,” Scott said on Twitter. “Our Hispanic community. Our state. Our nation. This was an attack on every American.”

It was too late for many in the community, though. The governor’s supportive tweet unleashed another barrage of online opprobrium, with many LGBT Floridians accusing Scott and other conservative politicians who have opposed gay rights but issued sympathetic messages after the shootings of hypocrisy and opportunism.
If the immediate aftermath of the shootings brought a rare moment of unified political support for the victims, that’s since been fractured by a persisting schism in Florida over the question of LGBT rights that goes back at least to the late 1970s, when Miami anti-gay-rights crusader Anita Bryant’s successful campaign to overturn an anti-discrimination Miami-Dade County ordinance launched a national backlash against expanded legal protections for homosexuals.

LGBT rights advocates in Florida have scored some substantial victories in the decades since: Miami-Dade reinstated its ordinance 20 years later, and more recently extended its protections to transgender people. Numerous other local governments across the state have also adopted similarly broad human-rights ordinances. Courts overturned a state ban on gay adoption in 2010 and declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstititional in 2014, allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally in Florida for the first time, starting in 2015. Florida’s tourism agency, meanwhile, runs national promotions to lure gay and lesbian tourists, especially to welcoming destinations like Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Miami Beach and Orlando.

But Florida, with large evangelical and traditionally minded retiree populations, and politically dominated by conservative Republicans, remains sharply split on the issue, and the Orlando shootings may only intensify the battle over additional legal protections and social acceptance for LGBT people.

So far, advocates’ ultimate legislative goal — a statewide ban on housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation — remains elusive, a reality that the Orlando massacre only drove home even harder for some. The attack also prompted a wave of anti-gay messages on social media from people who said the victims brought it on themselves because of what the posters described as immoral behavior.

“After the victories in marriage equality, the conversation shifted to the fact that you can be married on a Saturday and be fired on Monday for being gay,” said Christian Ulvert, a Democratic political consultant and LGBT-rights advocate based in Miami Beach. “What happened in Orlando, it’s a punch to the gut and it’s a wake-up call. The victories we’ve had are important. But there is still vitriol and hate, and you see it on social media. Marriage equality was but one victory in a long fight.”

Conservative and religious leaders have tried to gingerly sidestep the question, saying the immediate aftermath of the tragedy is not the right time to take up a politically fraught question like that of gay rights.

“We are still trying to get our hands around it,” said Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami, who unsuccessfully introduced a bill in the past session of the Florida Legislature that would have barred transgender people from using a public bathroom that did not match their birth gender. “Right now it’s time to console the families of the victims of this mass terrorism attack. That’s priority number one. Right now, legislation is the last thing on anybody’s mind.”

But advocates say it’s very much on theirs, and they expect more than just words of support from Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose testy exchanges this past week with CNN newshost Anderson Cooper over her costly record of fighting same-sex marriage in court have gone viral. They say that Scott and Bondi have in the past pandered to gay-rights opponents, noting the governor’s signing earlier of a controversial bill shielding clergy from civil action for refusing to perform same-sex weddings as a largely symbolic action to please religious conservatives.

Carlos Guillermo Smith, the legislative director for the LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida, said Scott should now prove good faith by signing an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state agencies and contracting, and that legislative leaders should move on an expansion of the state’s civil-rights laws that has been introduced but stalled for nine years.

“The governor can sign this executive order today. The idea that the state would not respond to a horrific hate crime by doing the bare minimum to protect its LGTBQ citizens, well that’s absolutely something that must happen and will happen,” said Smith, who is running for the state legislature from Orlando. “A lot of people are asking what good could come of this tragedy. The question is, what good will we make of this?”

Smith and other advocates say they’re more than willing to cut Scott some slack if he engages in a real discussion over gay rights. The governor, known for not displaying much emotion, has been visibly moved in encounters with victims and their families and in describing the impact of the shootings on them. He has laid flowers at a memorial for victims, met with their families and retweeted posts from Delta Airlines, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball club and others festooned with logos in the rainbow colors of the gay-pride flag.

“That’s why I’m optimistic,” Smith said. “This has had an impact on the governor. He’s a human being. There is no way he cannot have been moved, not just to see the outpouring of love as well as the devastation this has caused.”

But Ulvert, Smith and other LGBT Floridians and activists say it didn’t help matters when Bondi reacted defensively in a live interview with CNN’s Cooper outside the Orlando hospital where many shooting victims were treated. Citing criticism from local members of the LGBT community, Cooper hectored Bondi over her expressed support for what she called “our” LGBT community after the attack in contrast to her previous defense of the state’s marriage ban in court, based on an argument that same-sex marriage posed a threat of “harm” to Florida.


Cooper called it a “sick irony” that many spouses of victims would not have had the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital if the ban had not been overturned. After the interview, Bondi went on the offensive against Cooper on a New York radio talk show, accusing the newsman of “creating more anger and havoc and hatred yesterday.”

Bondi wasted an opportunity to reach out to the gay and lesbian community in a meaningful way by expressing regret or second thoughts about her legal defense of the marriage ban, Ulvert said.

“Words are not enough. Actions matter. To honor the victims is to recognize that times have changed, and should change,” Ulvert said.

The shootings have sharpened a sense of urgency among the state’s LGBT advocates. Even before the attack, they were on edge amid a legal backlash over the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country that has included so-called “bathroom bills” aimed at transgender people and passed in North Carolina and Mississippi. Though Artiles’ similar bill stalled after passing two committee votes, activists say politicians, ministers and preachers who have demonized gays and lesbians as deviants during the past few years of debate have stoked anti-gay hatred and discrimination in the state.

After the shootings, the New York Times published an analysis of FBI data showing that LGBT people are now the most likely victims of hate crimes across the country, displacing Jews.

“My heart is angry because the indignation and the hate that has been expressed toward our community has caused this mess,” said Stanley Ramos, a young, gay Puerto Rican social worker who is studying to be a pastor, as he began a tearful sermon Wednesday evening at Orlando’s LGBT-oriented Joy Metropolitan Community Church. “This mess has happened because we’ve given a license to attack gay people. This mess has happened because preachers of our Christian faith have stood up on television and sat on the radio and have preached the gospel against us.”

Ramos’ sermon underscored the gulf that remains in the wake of the shootings between LGBT Floridians and even well-meaning people who have offered what he described as grudging, backhanded sympathy. He said he was appalled when he visited a fundamentalist church the night before for a vigil on behalf of victims of the massacre.

State Rep. Frank Artiles, on anti-discrimination legislation

“I heard them say how much in spite, in spite of our sin they love us. In spite of our differences, hear me, in spite of our differences — we come together in love,” he said.

Smacking the back of his hand into his other palm, his words coming louder and louder, Ramos said he’d had enough of that and urged his congregation not to take it anymore, either.

“Last night I had not been in a straight, evangelical, heterosexual, predominantly white church in 15 years. And I went last night and I sat there saying ‘Lord, it’s gonna be 50 before I do this again,’ ” Ramos said. “I’m not doing it no more. I’m not apologizing to you. I don’t care if you accept me or you don’t accept me.”


June 15, 2016

Omar Mateen was Gay Trying to pIck up Men/ A Bullied Chubby Kid with Homophobic Dad



A regular at the Gay Night Club

Jim Van Horn said he was a frequent patron at Orlando’s Pulse night club. He said another ‘‘regular’’ at the Florida gay bar was Omar Mateen, the man whose shooting rampage left 49 dead and dozens more wounded early Sunday in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Speaking to The Associated Press late Monday, 71-year-old Van Horn says he saw Mateen trying to pick up men at the club.

Van Horn said he met Mateen once. He said the younger man was telling him about his ex-wife.

Van Horn says some friends then called him away and told him they didn’t want him talking to Mateen because ‘‘they thought he was a strange person.’’

Despite Mateen’s pledge of support to the Islamic State, other possible explanations emerged, including questions of whether he was conflicted about his sexuality.

An official says the FBI is investigating reports that the Orlando massacre shooter had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps.

The U.S. official had been briefed on the investigation into 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday.

The comments follow reports and comments from patrons at the Orlando club Pulse that Mateen was a regular there and tried to pick up men. Previously, his Afghan-immigrant father had suggested Mateen may have acted out of anti-gay hatred, and said his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.

 Kevin West said he was in the parking lot at the Pulse Orlando nightclub at 1 a.m. Sunday when he recognized Omar Mateen walking in.

The men had met more than a year ago when Mateen reached out to West on Jack’d, a dating app for men. They then lost touch until three months ago, when Mateen made contact again, mentioned that he would be in Orlando soon, and suggested meeting for a drink. West had also seen Mateen at Pulse multiple times before.

“I remember details,” said West, a 37-year-old Navy veteran. “I never forget a face.”

Later that night, Mateen would kill 49 people inside the gay nightclub in Orlando in the worst mass shooting in US history.

Mateen’s apparent presence on gay dating apps and his previous visits to Pulse, according to West and another witness, added another dimension to the portrait emerging Monday of the man behind the violent rampage.

Cord Cedeno said he had also seen Mateen inside Pulse before, standing at the bar with a drink.

“He was open with his picture on the sites, he was easy to recognize,” said Cedeno, 23, of Orlando, who said he was also contacted by Mateen at least a year ago on a dating app.

LATEST UPDATE: Washington Post just posted the following before we came out at 12am:

Family members and an ex-wife of Omar Mateen say he regularly espoused homophobic views, but regulars at the LGBT nightclub where the 29-year-old American-born Muslim gunman killed 49 while pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group described him as a routine visitor.
Others recognized him from gay dating apps, adding to the complicated and at times contradictory picture of the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Investigators also are questioning Mateen’s second wife, Noor Salman, about the degree of knowledge she had before the attack early Sunday.
An official who was briefed on the progress of the case but insisted on anonymity told The Associated Press that authorities believe Mateen’s wife knew about the plot, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.
Mateen, who injured 53 others when he stormed the gay nightclub Pulse and opened fire, appears to have been preparing for the attack since at least June 4, when he purchased one of the firearms used in the assault.
As authorities work to piece together the motivation behind the attack, a probe that initially centered on Islamic radicalization and the FBI’s prior investigations of Mateen has veered into whether the killer struggled with feelings about his own sexual identity.

Psychological studies show that anti-gay views are more pronounced in people who repress same-sex desires, particularly those who are raised by parents who forbid homosexuality.
“In many cases, these are people who are at war with themselves and they are turning this internal conflict outward,” said Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester who oversaw a 2012 study on homophobia.
Jim Van Horn, 71, told AP that he saw Mateen repeatedly at the bar and talked with him once.
“He was a homosexual, and he was trying to pick up men,” Mr. Van Horn said. “He would walk up to them and then he would maybe put his arm around ‘em or something and maybe try to get them to dance a little bit or something.”
During a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center, shooting survivor Patience Carter said she was praying to die as she lay on a nightclub bathroom floor covered in water and blood. She said Mateen talked about wanting the U.S. to “stop bombing my country,” a possible reference to his father’s native Afghanistan.
“I really don’t think I’m going to get out of there,” said Ms. Carter, 20, recalling her thoughts. “I made peace with God. ‘Just please take me. I don’t want any more.’ I was just begging God to take the soul out of my body.”
Citing law enforcement sources, NBC News reported that Mateen’s wife accompanied him to the gun store when he purchased ammunition several days after June 4 and at some point drove him to Pulse because he wanted to scope out the club.
Investigators are continuing to dig through his phone and communications as well as interviewing those who knew him to determine more about the killer and the degree to which those around him may have been aware of or aided him in carrying out his plans.
NBC also reported that authorities are considering whether to bring criminal charges against Ms. Salman regarding her failure to report the plans for the brutal attack to law enforcement. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.
Ms. Salman has not spoken out publicly about Mateen.
Amy Filjones, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida, declined to comment on the report because the investigation is continuing.
Even if Ms. Salman knew about the pending attack, the extent to which she felt able to warn law enforcement is unclear.
Mateen’s first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, has described the gunman as controlling and abusive. She said he forbade her from seeing her family and seized control of her paychecks. Their marriage in 2009 lasted four months.
“He was totally two different people sometimes and would turn and abuse me, out of nowhere, when I was sleeping,” she told The New York Times.
Ms. Yusufiy said she did not know whether her former husband might have been homosexual but noted that he regularly expressed strong anti-gay feelings.
One regular patron of Pulse told the Los Angeles Times that he recognized Mateen from the gay dating app Jack’d. Another told MSNBC that he had received messages from Mateen through the app Grindr.
Hector Camacho, CEO of Jack’d, said the company has not been able to substantiate claims that Mateen was active on the site.
For lawmakers looking to prevent terrorism, the ambiguity in Mateen’s motivations and questions about how the attack could have been detected led to separate tactics.
Democrats were intent on forcing votes on gun control. Although it may be impossible to spot “lone wolf” attackers, they said, their rampages can be less lethal if they don’t have access to firearms.
House Republicans rejected that approach and instead vowed to pass a series of bills designed to shape an anti-terrorism strategy. Republican leaders said they would repackage and approve nine separate bills as a single bill and send it to the Senate, where they hope it will receive action.
President Obama on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to impose more gun control, especially a ban on assault-style rifles such as the one used in Orlando.
“Stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons. Reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Mr. Obama said. “Otherwise these kinds of events are going to keep on happening.”
Noting that the attackers in San Bernardino, California, and Fort Hood, Texas, were U.S. citizens, the president said authorities cannot conduct blanket surveillance on all Muslims.
“Where does this stop?” Mr. Obama asked. “Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want. It won’t make us more safe; it will make us less safe.”
Law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, said the heavy fire that Orlando Police Department officers came under while trying to subdue Mateen is evidence that law enforcement has a real need for surplus military equipment.
Mr. Obama signed an executive order last year that imposed limitations on the types of surplus equipment that police departments could obtain through surplus programs.[End of Wash Post report]


 His ex-wife said he suffered from mental illness. And his Afghan-immigrant father suggested he may have acted out of anti-gay hatred.
The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she’s not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.

Sitora Yusufiy spoke to CNN on Tuesday from Denver.

She says: ‘‘When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past ... that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him. ... I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn’t want everybody to know about.’’

The comments follow reports from customers at the gay nightclub that shooter Omar Mateen was seen there regularly. One told The Associated Press that Mateen tried to pick up men there.

Asked whether she thinks her ex-husband was gay, Yusufiy said: ‘‘I don’t know. He never personally or physically made any indications while we were together of that. But he did feel very strongly about homosexuality.’’

She says it’s possible he hid feelings about being gay.

The couple were married in 2009 and divorced two years later. She has said he was abusive.

The Apartment

Family photos, drawings, blackboard messages, a Quran and books on Islam decorate the apartment where the shooter in the Orlando gay nightclub massacre lived with his wife.

Univision News reported the details and says it visited the home in Fort Pierce, Florida, on Monday when it was unoccupied. Univision reports that it was the morning after the FBI swept the apartment for evidence, and says the home was unlocked and not yet sealed off by crime-scene tape.

The report describes a blackboard message in the kitchen about an appointment at their 3-year-old son’s school and a note with an Arabic phrase praising God.

Univision says that on the living room table was a document listing items investigators removed: 9 mm cartridges, an iPad mini, a Samsung phone, a Dell computer, a CD labeled with Mateen’s name.

Mateen lived there with his second wife, Noor Salman.

New developments with Marteen second wife. She has stated that she tried to stop Omar from committing this mass shooting. The question is if she was trying to stop him then she mot’ve known what he was up to and the question that will pop on  everyone’s mind is why didn’t she called the police?
There ware reports from CBSN that she has been interviewed at least twice by the FBI and also polygraph. No details about this but what has come out is food for thought.


Killer showing his colors early on with the 9/11 Attacks

A man who knew the Orlando nightclub shooter as a teenager says the student infuriated his peers by joking about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Robert Zirkle says he and Omar Marteen lived in Stuart, Florida, and rode the same bus, though they attended different schools.

Zirkle says he and his friends were generally on good terms with Mateen until 9/11. Zirkle says Mateen made airplane and explosion sounds and appeared to be joking about the attacks.

Zirkle says, ‘‘My group of friends told him it wasn’t a joke, and if he didn’t knock it off he was going to have problems.’’

Zirkle is now 29 and lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. He says he would see Mateen when both teens worked at the mall but didn’t have much contact after those jobs.

Gunman brutally bullied for being chubby and being Arab

An anonymous official told the Associated Press that the FBI is investigating the claims the shooter had been at the club before and had used gay dating apps.

Mateen and his family had the typical profile of striving immigrants in this country. But there were also hints of darkness in Mateen’s life, according to interviews with relatives, friends, ex-classmates, former co-workers and acquaintances: Being Arab American meant he stood out in a small South Florida town and was bullied in school. He switched jobs constantly and became increasingly frustrated, unpredictable, sporadically religious, and prone to anger.

Some of Mateen’s high school classmates pinpointed a particularly strange moment on Sept. 11, 2001, when they were watching the attack on the World Trade Center unfold on live TV.

Four classmates said Mateen cheered and made mocking comments, which got him pulled from class and may have led to his departure from the school. His unusual behavior that day was also corroborated by other classmates in public posts on Facebook.

The Martin County School District referred all questions about Mateen’s time as a student to the FBI.

Robert Zirkle, then a freshman in the Martin school district, said that after 9/11, he saw Mateen excited and making fun of how America was attacked.

“He was making plane noises on the bus, acting like he was running into a building,” said Zirkle. “I don’t really know if he was doing it because he was being taught some stuff at home or just doing it for attention because he didn’t have a lot of friends.

“We all rode the same bus. We weren’t really close friends, but friends at least a little,” he said. “After 9/11 happened, he started changing and acting different.”

At the time, Mateen was attending the Spectrum alternative school, a campus in Stuart, Fla., for students with behavioral issues.

One former student who was sitting in the same class as Mateen said he remembers the morning of 9/11 clearly: “Teachers said, ‘Turn on the TV.’ We see the one plane hit. And then see the second plane hit. . . . He was smiling. It was almost like surreal how happy he was about what had happened to us.”

The former student said Mateen stood up after the second tower was hit and claimed that Osama bin Laden was his uncle.

“Back then, we didn’t even really know who Osama bin Laden was,” the classmate said. “But he talked about shooting AK-47s. . . . He said he shot them and his uncle taught him how to shoot them.”

The ex-classmate spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that business clients would find out that he attended a school for poorly behaving students. He recalled others in the class growing angry. “The teacher could tell we wanted to hurt him. So the teacher grabbed him,” he said, and sent him to the dean’s office.

In a Facebook post, another student similarly described Mateen’s standing up and cheering on 9/11.

A third classmate said he distinctly remembers Mateen’s actions that day because both of them were sent to the dean’s office at the same time for acting out when the towers were hit. That third student spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared being bombarded by media requests.

“I was sleeping in class and woke up to see people jumping off buildings, so I started swearing and they sent me up,” the former student said. When he arrived at the dean’s office, Mateen was also there, apparently for saying rude things about Americans deserving to be attacked, said this student, who was not in the classroom to witness the comments.

The first former classmate, who was in the classroom, vividly recalled Mateen’s father picking him up after he got in trouble. “I remember his dad walking up,” he said. “And in the courtyard in front of everyone, the dad slapped him right across the face.”

After that day, Zirkle said, “he kept doing it and saying crazy things. It’s weird. He was totally cool before 9/11, and then something changed.”

Zirkle and others think Mateen was suspended or expelled from the school shortly afterward.

But such memories don’t fit with those of Kenneth Winstanley, a friend of Mateen’s in junior high and high school, who said he did not recall Mateen celebrating the Sept. 11 attacks and doubted his friend would have done that. Winstanley was not in the same room as Mateen that day.

“I never heard about him doing anything like that,’’ said Winstanley, who attended school with Mateen from grades six through 10. “Someone would have said something. We were friends. If he was caught celebrating something like that, he would have gotten beaten up.’’

Winstanley said he never saw signs of radicalization in Mateen in high school, adding, “I know Omar liked America.’’ He said the two once had a conversation about Mateen’s Muslim faith. “Omar explained the Muslim religion to me,’’ Winstanley said. “He didn’t go crazy into it. It was just some of the things his culture does, the food they eat. Nothing radical Islam at all.’’

Sarah Zaidi, who was best friends with one of Mateen’s three sisters, described the Mateens as “an all-American family.”

“His mom worked for a while at a day-care center. His dad did stuff with stocks and investment,” Zaidi said. “They were pretty moderate as Muslims. None of the sisters or mom even wore a headscarf like some Muslims do.”

Two of Mateen’s sisters are now married and have kids in the same area, Zaidi said. A third is a hairdresser and cosmetologist.

But as the only son, Mateen seemed to have fewer friends than his sisters.

“He was brutally bullied,” said Justin Delancy, who rode the bus with Mateen for several years. “He was a chubby kid and got bullied about his weight. He was probably one of the only kids of Arab descent. That made him stand out a bit as well.”

On some mornings, kids wouldn’t let Mateen sit beside them. On others, he’d get slapped on the back of his head, Delancy said. “He’d try to joke and laugh and make fun of himself to get the attention off of himself. But it didn’t work.”

Court records released Monday depict a meandering life for Mateen after he left the alternative school. He graduated in 2006 from Martin County’s adult vocational school, where struggling students go to get GEDs. He earned an associate’s degree from Indian River State College in 2006.

In the court documents, Mateen disclosed his work history, a string of jobs from 2002 to 2006 at GNC, Hollister, Gold’s Gym, Nutrition World, Walgreens, Chick-fil-A, Circuit City, and Publix.

In 2009, Mateen married Sitora Yusufiy, who has said in interviews that Mateen beat her severely. They separated about nine months later. A judge ruled in 2011 that their marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

After he married a second time, his current wife, Noor Z. Salman, also left him to return to her childhood home in Rodeo, Calif., with their 3-year-old son, acquaintances said.

Friends and co-workers gave conflicting reports about Mateen’s religiosity and personality. To some, he was extremely pious and serious. But others described him chasing girls, going to parties, and drinking.

“He was fun,” said Ryan Jones, 27, who said he often went out with Mateen.

Former classmate Samuel King and his friends also hung out with Mateen at the mall, where Mateen worked at the GNC store after high school and King at Ruby Tuesday. Half the workers at the restaurant were openly gay, King said, including himself. “He had to know it, but I never got any sense of homophobia or aggression from him.”

Over the past two days, King and others have revisited their interactions with Mateen, trying to find signs of how he turned into someone capable of such violence.

On Monday, Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, insisted that his son was not motivated by Islamist radical ideology, describing the 29-year-old as “a good son” who did not appear agitated or angry in the days before the shooting.

In an interview at his home in Port St. Lucie, the father offered no hints about what could have driven his son.

When asked about Mateen’s 911 call pledging loyalty to the Islamic State, his father said he did not believe it was genuine.

“I think he just wanted to boast of himself,” he said. “No radicalism, no. He doesn’t have a beard even. . . . I don’t think religion or Islam had anything to do with this.”

His father also glossed over the anger and homophobia that, a day earlier, he recounted witnessing in Mateen after his son saw a gay couple being affectionate in Miami. “He was surprised about it. That was it.”

In a video posted to Facebook early Monday, the father said: “God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality. This is not for the servants” of God.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, government officials were also trying to piece together the family’s background for clues. They said they do not know when Mateen’s father left the country, but noted that millions fled after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979.

Mateen’s father, however, maintained a strong affiliation with Afghanistan, hosting a television show broadcast from California that weighed in on the country’s political affairs. He also filmed dozens of sparsely viewed, rambling YouTube videos portraying himself as an important Afghan analyst and leader.

The most recent video on the father’s YouTube channel shows him declaring his candidacy for the Afghan presidency. But the timing is strange, coming a year after presidential elections were held in Afghanistan. And the elder Mateen appears incoherent at times in the video, jumping abruptly from topic to topic.

Sitting on his living-room couch, the father said he saw no warning signs up to the day before the shootings, when he last saw his son.

“He was well behaved. His appearance was perfect,” he said. “I didn’t see any sign of worrying or being upset or nervous.”

 Last segment(brutally bullied) by
William Wan and Anne Hull who reported from Orlando. Journalists Arelis R. Hernandez in Orlando, Lee Powell and Zachary Fagenson in Fort Pierce, Tim Craig in Afghanistan, and Julie Tate, Alice Crites, Amy Brittain, Jerry Markon, Brian Murphy, and Max Bearak in Washington contributed to this report.

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