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President Barack Obama Calls Orlando Nightclub Shooting an ‘Act of Terror’ as ISIS Claims Responsibility

President Barack Obama addressed the United States from the White House briefing room after the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 50 people dead and 53 injured on Sunday, June 12.

“Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, a horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people,” the president, 54, said. “We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand for the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city.”

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Barack Obama
Barack Obama makes an address regarding the Orlando shooting on June 12, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

He continued, “Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage and in resolve to defend our people.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) later claimed responsibility for the attack. “The armed attack that targeted a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said in a statement to Reuters on Sunday afternoon.

Obama also met with an FBI director and his homeland security adviser on Sunday and ensured that they are “appropriately investigating this as an act of terror.”

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“This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer,” he said, adding that 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen “was a person filled with hatred.”

According to ABC News, Mateen has been on the FBI’s radar since 2013 when he made “inflammatory” comments to his coworkers. In 2014, he was investigated again for his relationship with an American suicide bomber. The FBI later closed the investigation after determining that Mateen did not appear to be a threat.

The president noted that it was an “especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing and to live.”

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After noting that the Orlando incident is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Obama slammed Congress’ inaction on his push for gun-control legislation.

“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, in a house of worship, or in a movie theater or in a nightclub,” he said. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

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