Orlando mourns as possible motives emerge for club gunman
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — As thousands in Orlando turned out to mourn 49 people killed inside a gay nightclub, federal investigators examined possible motives for the gunman who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The White House and the FBI said 29-year-old Omar Mateen, an American born Muslim, appears to be a “homegrown extremist” who had touted support not just for the Islamic State, but other radical groups that are its enemies.
“So far, we see no indication that this was a plot directed from outside the United States, and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network,” FBI Director James Comey said Monday. He said Mateen was clearly “radicalized,” at least in part via the internet.
Despite Mateen’s pledge of support to the Islamic State, other possible explanations emerged. His ex-wife said he suffered from mental illness. There were questions emerging if he was conflicted about his own sexuality. And his Afghan-immigrant father suggested he may have acted out of anti-gay hatred. He said his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.
Meanwhile, thousands gathered Monday night in downtown Orlando for a vigil to support the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The names of the dead were read aloud. It was held on the lawn of Orlando’s main performing arts venue, where mourners created a makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and notes for the victims.
In Orlando, the ‘Happiest Place’ confronts a sad reality
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Coloradans Randy and Tammy Harris had been planning the trip for 10 months. Seven-year-old son Jackson had his heart set on Space Mountain; his 4-year-old sister, Anabelle, was hoping to meet her namesake from “Beauty and the Beast.”
They’d come to experience what’s billed as the “Happiest Place on Earth.” And then, just a few miles away, there was another superlative: The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The Harrises are certainly not insensitive to tragedy. They live in Aurora, Colorado, where a man dressed in black body armor rampaged through a movie theater in July 2012, killing 12 and wounding 70 others.
“There is no place that’s completely safe anymore,” said Tammy Harris, a middle school writing teacher. “Absolutely no place. These things happen in theaters, in schools, etc. It is just pervasive, unfortunately.”
Sunday’s massacre at Pulse Night Club in downtown Orlando was another reminder. That’s what she’ll think about as she remembers this trip, she said as she slathered her daughter with sunscreen in the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot. “Unfortunately, it’s just becoming a bit of the norm now where these tragedies happen.”
Making no promises, Obama struggles for solution on violence
WASHINGTON (AP) — Was it homegrown terrorism, bigotry or random gun violence?
Americans searching for answers after the Orlando shootings are finding no easy solutions from President Barack Obama, who is conceding that a deadly mix of extremism and easy gun access have made future tragedies almost a foregone conclusion.
In the days after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, Obama has offered no simple prescriptions or promises for new action — even as the candidates vying for his job put forward aggressive plans of their own. Instead, the president has suggested the root causes behind a “disturbed” man’s actions are difficult to determine and may be less important than a sort of “soul searching” about what to do about it.
“We know that at some point there are going to be, out of 300 million, there are going to be some individuals who find for whatever reason that kind of horrible propaganda enticing,” Obama said Monday. “And if that happens, and that person can get a weapon, that’s a problem.”
The comments were Obama’s most direct acknowledgment yet that the attacks like the one in Orlando may be a new fixture of American life — the sort of observation that could only be delivered by a second-term president with seven months left in office. Obama’s two-prong message, delivered with weary resignation to reporters, was unlikely to quell the fears of those hoping such attacks will never happen again.
Puerto Rico prepares for wave of losses after club shooting
PONCE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Eduardo Pacheco wrote the names of every person killed in an Orlando nightclub on a bright green poster spread across the hood of a car, preparing for a vigil to the fallen. He stopped halfway, unable to go on as tears filled his eyes.
Five of the names on the list were his friends, all from the city of Ponce in Puerto Rico, an island preparing for a wave of losses following early Sunday’s attack in the Pulse gay nightclub as it was celebrating Latin night. Mourners young and old clutched candles and posters at Monday night’s vigil in this southern coastal city, still stunned by the news.
“It was such a tremendous loss. He was such a great human being. All five of them were,” said Pacheco of his best friend, who was among those killed, and the other four victims. He said two of them were on vacation in Orlando, while the other three had moved there in recent years.
While many Latinos were among the dead, Puerto Ricans feared their island would be inordinately hit as LGBT activists were struck by how many had characteristically Puerto Rican names.
So far, nearly “all of the names of the victims seem to be Puerto Rican,” Karina Claudio Betancourt, a Puerto Rican activist who is a program officer with the Open Society Foundations, said as the names rolled out.
Clinton and Sanders to meet as DC marks the final primary
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are ending the primary calendar with a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday that could set the tone for Democratic unity and next month’s party convention in Philadelphia.
Clinton and Sanders plan to meet on the night of the final presidential primary in the District of Columbia, a contest that will have no bearing on Clinton’s role as the presumptive nominee but marks a transition in the lengthy primary fight between the two rivals.
The Vermont senator has vowed to do all he can to prevent Republican Donald Trump from reaching the White House but suggested he will not endorse Clinton immediately. Sanders said the private meeting will help him determine how committed Clinton will be to the policy issues he has staked out during his 13-month campaign.
“I simply want to get a sense of what kind of platform she will be supporting, whether she will be vigorous in standing up for working families and the middle class, moving aggressively in climate change, health care for all, making public colleges and universities tuition-free,” Sanders said in an interview Sunday with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” After the discussion, Sanders said he will “be able to make other decisions.”
Sanders met last week with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who both later endorsed Clinton, and signaled to Democrats that he hopes to play a constructive role in helping the party regain control of the Senate in the 2016 elections.
Frenchman shot video of attack on police, had terrorist past
PARIS (AP) — A Frenchman once convicted for recruiting jihadi fighters recorded video of the attack in which two police officials died, authorities said Tuesday, as France’s leadership reeled from what the president called a new terrorist attack.
The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency cited an unnamed source as saying an IS fighter carried out the late-night attack in the Paris suburb of Magnanville. While the extremist group has not officially claimed responsibility, French authorities view it in the context of the large-scale threat hanging over the country since IS attacks on Paris in November.
Two police officials, a man and woman who lived together, were killed. The attacker, identified as 25-year-old Larossi Abbala, was also killed, while the couple’s 3-year-old child survived.
French President Francois Hollande held an emergency security meeting Tuesday about what he said was “incontestably a terrorist act.” He said France was facing a terror threat “of a very large scale.”
“France is not the only country concerned (by the terrorist threat), as we have seen, again, in the United States, in Orlando,” he said.
Pakistan’s transgenders mocked by most, abhorred by many
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Abandoned by family and mocked by their society, the life of a Pakistani transgender is lonely.
It can even be deadly.
Alisha was just 23 years old when she was shot five times last month, allegedly by a boyfriend who has since been arrested. She died of her wounds three days later. Her friends say she was neglected by doctors and medical professionals who taunted her, rather than treated her, and that three hours passed before Alisha went into surgery after arriving at the hospital.
As she lay bleeding, the hospital’s health workers crowded around her, making jokes and ridiculing her, said her friend Paro, herself transgender.
“I shouted: ‘She is not dancing. She is dying. For God and the Prophet’s sake leave her alone, let her breathe,” Paro recalled, her voice rising as she remembered pushing the crowd away.
10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. ORLANDO MOURNS AS POSSIBLE MOTIVES EMERGE FOR GUNMAN
Despite Omar Mateen’s pledge of support to the Islamic State group, other possible explanations emerged such as mental illness and whether he was conflicted about his own sexuality.
2. OBAMA STRUGGLES FOR SOLUTION ON VIOLENCE
The American president is conceding that a deadly mix of extremism and easy gun access have made future tragedies almost a foregone conclusion.
LeBron drops the hammer on Golden State to force Game 6
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — So much noise surrounded LeBron James heading into Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
It came from the Golden State Warriors players, who chided James for being overly sensitive to trash talk in the heat of the moment.
It came from raucous Oracle Arena, one of the loudest fan bases in the league that wanted a pound of flesh from James for his involvement in Draymond Green’s suspension.
It came from the vocal group of James detractors, who were delighting in the possibility of the four-time MVP falling flat in the finals again, further proof in their eyes that he will never measure up to the unprecedented hype he received from his formative days in Akron, Ohio.
Facing elimination and a fifth career loss in the finals, James delivered a tour de force of a performance with 41 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots in the Cavaliers’ 112-97 victory that pushed the series back to Cleveland.
Palestinians move into new city, part of statehood dream
RAWABI, West Bank (AP) — After years of setbacks, Palestinians are proudly starting to move into their first planned city being built in the West Bank — a move that isn’t just about real estate but also a symbol of their quest for statehood after nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation.
Though Rawabi is still unfinished, its glistening high-rises and shopping centers bring a rare sense of pride and excitement to the territory at a time of growing malaise over a standstill in Mideast peace efforts.
Palestinian-American developer Bashar Masri dreamed up Rawabi, which means “hills” in Arabic, back in 2007. But the construction of the city, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Jerusalem, has repeatedly stalled due to political obstacles. Work only began in 2012.
Perched on a once desolate hilltop, it’s the first Palestinian city being built according to a modern urban design plan. The organized layout and modern facilities are in jarring contrast to chaotic Palestinian towns and villages in the area.
Since January, the first residents have been slowly moving in.