By Celia Bacelar Palmares
An American-born man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS gunned down 49 people early last Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11, authorities said.
According to the FBI, the gunman, from Fort Pierce, Florida, was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 but was not found to be a threat.
The gunman called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official. He carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club about 2 a.m. Sunday and started shooting, killing 49 people and wounding at least 53, officials said.
After a standoff of about three hours, while people trapped inside the club desperately called and messaged friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed the gunman.
Once again, we are left to question why, searching for a solution to make it stop… Only this shooting presents with multifaceted motivations. All of our fears rolled into one … his pledge to ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), his homophobia, his mental instability, the availability of high-powered weapons, the glitch in the system that allowed him to sweep through the cracks of the FBI and the gun shop owner that said something when he saw something, and was not heard.
Could it be that both the left and the right have valid solutions? Could it be that we must not allow individuals on a no-fly list to purchase weapons, while not questioning the gunman’s understanding of the intricacies of the war on terror and accepting his pledge to a radical terrorist group? Could it be that we must denounce homophobia and bigotry while we demand federal authorities be fearless in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and terrorism, calling them what they are? Maybe this time, we will begin to see that the extremes displayed in our reactions to why tragedy has once again fallen upon us may get us all closer to an answer.
One thing is certain, the gunman, a mentally ill person drawn by the violence, found in ISIS the justification to act upon his sick hateful thoughts towards all of us: gay, straight, white, black, Latino, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, co-workers…
God bless the families of the lost and the survivors with comfort and strength. We are all Orlando.
Monet Murray, 18
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Amanda Alvear and Mercedez Marisol Flores, 25 and 26
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Cory James Connell, 21
Darryl “DJ” Roman Burt II, 29
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Enrique L. Rios, Jr, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera, 36
Frank Hernandez , 27
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Geraldo A. “Drake” Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Juan Pablo Rivera Velazquez, 37
Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 22 and 32
Kimberly Morris, 37
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis Daniel Conde , 39
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero and Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 26 and 31
Paul Terrell Henry , 41
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24