Orlando shootings: Club attacker had 'hatred in his heart', father says

The father of a gunman who killed 50 people in an Orlando gay club says he did not know that his son had "hatred in his heart".

Omar Mateen killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, before being shot dead by police.

Seddique Mateen said he did not understand why his son carried out the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

He had earlier said his son was angered after seeing two men kissing in Miami.

In a statement posted online and addressed to people in his native Afghanistan, Seddique Mateen said his son was "a very good boy", who had a wife and a child.

"I don't know what caused it," he said. "I never figured out that he had hatred in his heart....I am grief-stricken and I have announced this to the people of the United States."

He added he did not know why his son committed such an act during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The so-called Islamic State group (IS), which said it was behind the shootings, had called for attacks on the West during Ramadan.

On Sunday, Seddique Mateen said: "We are apologising for the whole incident. We are in shock, like the whole country."

The attack began at about 02:00 local time (06:00 GMT) on Sunday. There was an exchange of fire with a police officer working at the club, after which the suspect took hostages.

At 05:00 a police assault team went into the club after police received text messages and phone calls from some of the hostages. Mateen was killed in an exchange of fire.

States of emergency have been declared in the city of Orlando and surrounding Orange County.
Who were the victims?

So far, 15 victims have been named: 13 men and two women,

They include:
Edward Sotomayor, 34, who worked for a company that organised gay cruises;
Stanley Almodovar, 23, a pharmacy technician who was remembered as "kind and sassy";
Kimberly Morris, 37, who had only recently moved to Orlando and worked at Pulse as a bouncer;
Luis Vielma, 22, who worked at the Harry Potter section at Universal Studios - author J K Rowling paid tribute to him online;
Eddie Justice, 30, who sent his mother a series of text messages while inside the club - read more on him here.
Who was the killer?

Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan descent who was born in New York and lived in Florida, was not on a terrorism watch list.

However, the FBI interviewed him twice in 2013-14 after he made "inflammatory remarks" to a colleague, before closing its investigation.

Mateen legally purchased several guns in the past few days.

A statement on the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency said that an IS "fighter" was responsible.

NBC News reported that Mateen had called the emergency services before the attack and sworn allegiance to IS.

US President Barack Obama described the attack as "an act of terror and an act of hate"

It was a further reminder of how easy it was to acquire a deadly weapon in the US and shoot people, he said.

"We have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be," said the president, who has campaigned for stricter gun laws. "To actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Later the White House said Mr Obama had postponed a joint appearance with the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Mrs Clinton said in a statement: "This reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets."

And in a message to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, she said: "We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America."

Meanwhile her Republican rival, Donald Trump, said Mr Obama should step down for refusing to use the words "radical Islam" when condemning the attack.

"If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country any more," he said.

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged politicians not to "score points" or "exploit fear".

In a direct message to IS, Nihad Awad said: "You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. You are an aberration."
Worst US mass shootings in last 25 years
At least 50 dead, 2016 - Omar Mateen opens fire on revellers at gay club in Orlando, Florida
32 dead, 2007 - Student Seung-Hui Cho massacres students at Virginia Tech university before killing himself
27 dead, 2012 - Adam Lanza kills 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook, Connecticut
23 dead, 1991 - George Hennard drives through the wall of a cafe in Killeen, Texas, before opening fire and committing suicide
14 dead, 2015 - Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik open fire at a staff gathering in San Bernardino
13 dead, 2009 - Maj Nidal Malik Hasan opens fire at army base in Fort Hood, Texas
13 dead, 2009 - Jiverly Wong shoots people at New York immigrant centre before killing himself
13 dead, 1999 - Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado

The death toll means that the Orlando attack surpasses the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, which left 32 people dead.

According to the crowd-sourced Mass Shooting Tracker, the US last year suffered 372 mass shootings, defined as a single incident that kills or injures four or more people. Some 475 people were killed and 1,870 wounded.

The latest incident came as Orlando was still reeling from the fatal shooting on Friday night of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie following a concert in the city.

Orlando shootings: Club attacker had 'hatred in his heart', father says Orlando shootings: Club attacker had 'hatred in his heart', father says Reviewed by Emem Titus on 09:30 Rating: 5

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