Orlando shooting: Barack Obama meets victims and pleads for unity

  • America is in mourning after the worst mass shooting in its history
  • Omar Mateen's attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead
  • So-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack
  • President Obama says there is no clear evidence the gunman was directed by IS
  • Witnesses have claimed that Mateen was a regular visitor to the club he attacked
  • His wife said she tried to talk him out of conducting any kind of attack
  • His father has blamed security at the club for the attack
  • One gun shop refused to sell him ammunition as he was acting suspiciously

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Obama in plea for unity after meeting Orlando victims

US President Barack Obama has made an impassioned plea for everyone to be treated with dignity after meeting the victims of the Orlando massacre.

Mr Obama met with survivors and the families of the victims along with Vice President Joe Biden, at the Amway Center in Orlando .

You can't make up the world into 'us' and 'them' and denigrate and express hatred towards groups because of the colour of their skin, or their faith, or their sexual orientation, and not feed something very dangerous in this world.

– US President Barack Obama
Barack Obama and Joe Biden laying wreaths at the memorial in Orlando. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

After the meeting the pair laid wreaths at a makeshift memorial for the 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

Target gives $250,000 to fund in honour of team members

Mercedez Flores and Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo both died in the shooting Credit: Facebook

Target has donated $250,000 to the OneOrlando Fund, after two of their team members were killed during the Orlando shooting on Sunday.

The fund was set up by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to provide funds for non-profit organisations helping victims, their families, and the community.

Mercedez Flores and Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo were both killed in Pulse nightclub in Orlando, in what is now America's worst mass shooting in modern history.

We were devastated to hear the news of the horrific event in Orlando, made even more personal by the tragic loss of two of our own team members.

I want to personally thank the local Target team in Orlando for pulling together during an incredibly difficult and emotional time to do everything they can to help the community.

– Brian Cornell, chief executive officer, Target


Orlando survivor describes attack which killed best friend

A man who saw his best friend fatally shot during the Orlando massacre at a gay club has described waiting for death during a three-hour ordeal at the hands of gunman Omar Mateen.

Richard Aiken had been looking forwards to a night out with his friend Tevin Crosby but instead was caught up in the horrific attack in which 49 people were killed, he told ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar.

The friends were in the bathroom when they heard gunshots before being confronted by Mateen, who gunned down clubbers packed into the stalls together.

"We can hear the shots getting closer and closer," he said as the gunman approached before opening fire on the terrified group.

After each shot I just kept wondering am I next? Is this going to hurt? Where is he going to shoot me?

– Richard Aiken

Mr Aiken only discovered afterwards that his best friend was among the 49 dead.

"I don't have a best friend anymore, I don't have a person I can call," he said.


Officers given counselling after Orlando killings

Police officers involved in responding the largest ever US mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando have been offered counselling to cope with the horrors of the scene.

Police chief John Mina said up to 400 officers and swat team members had taken part in a stress management briefing and would be offered ongoing therapy.

These are some of the most courageous, heroic and toughest men I know.... but no-one can prepare you for what those officers encountered that night.

They stood toe-to-toe, went face-to-face with the mass murderer and performed heroically and courageously and I'm extremely proud of them.

– John Mina

Meanwhile the US attorney in charge of the investigation has declined to confirm whether Sitora Yusufiy, the ex-wife of gunman Omar Mateen, would face charges after it was claimed she may have had prior knowledge of his plans.

Lee Bentley told reporters: "I'm not going to speculate about any charges that may be brought or indeed about whether any charges will be brought in this case."

NRA: FBI should delay gun sales to terror suspects

Omar Mateen was placed on a terror watchlist - but that wouldn't have stopped him buying guns Credit: Reuters

The National Rifle Association has said that new laws should be brought in to prevent people on terror watchlists being able to buy guns over the counter.

The pro-gun lobby made a statement after it emerged that Orlando killer Omar Mateen had twice been investigated by the FBI for possible terror connections - but that fact would not have prevented him from buying deadly weapons.

The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period.

Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing.

– NRA statement

The NRA said that extra protections should also be put in place "that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed".

Two arrested after leaving Orlando tributes in Moscow

The two men were held by police after placing tributes to those killed in Orlando Credit: TV Rain

Two people have been arrested in Russia after laying a "love wins" sign at a memorial to the victims of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando.

The two men drew the anger of a policeman after apparently placing the sign - which has been widely used to celebrate LGBT rights - at a memorial site near to the US Embassy in central Moscow.

They were escorted into a police car as watching news cameras captured the confrontation.

The policeman picked up the sign before detaining the men Credit: TV Rain

It is not clear whether the men have been charged with any offence.

The conflict comes amid a climate of growing hostility towards LGBT people in Russia. Homophobic attacks are on the rise and parliament has passed a number of laws targeting gay people in recent years, including a bar on "gay propaganda" in public.

Father of Orlando killer blames nightclub over deaths

Seddique Mateen said he was also a victim of his son's rampage Credit: RTV

The father of the Orlando gunman has suggested that the LGBT club targeted in the attack could be to partially to blame for failing to organise tight enough security.

Seddique Mateen said that more guards might have stopped his son Omar from carrying out his rampage with an assault weapon capable of killing dozens within seconds.

"Maybe they had some kind of sloppy security," he told a rambling news conference this afternoon.

If they had tight security they would have eliminated my son - that would have been good, we wouldn't have this nightmare and these losses for the families.

– Seddique Mateen

Mr Mateen also insisted that he was also "a victim of terrorism" as his son was among the dead after the attack on Pulse nightclub.

"This is the nightmare for a father or mother," he said.

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