President Obama traveled to Orlando Thursday to meet with families of the victims of this weekend’s shooting rampage and reprise his role of national comforter in chief after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with survivors and families of the victims of Sunday’s attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando. They also met with members of law enforcement and the owners and staff of the nightclub, Pulse, who were working when the attack occurred. Obama and Biden visited a makeshift memorial for the shooting near city hall, and laid bouquets of white roses among the candles, pictures, and other tokens in remembrance of the victims.
Obama said Orlando was “shaken by an evil, hateful act,” but today, “most of all, there is love,” according to White House press pool reports. He said the grieving parents he met “don’t care about politics,” and repeated his call for Congress to enact stricter gun regulations that would make it harder for people to buy assault-style weapons.
On Sunday, at about 2 a.m., 29-year-old Omar Mateen entered Pulse and opened fire, unleashing round after round of bullets from an assault-style rifle, at the helpless crowds. During the siege, which lasted three hours, Mateen pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State and other terrorists in a phone call to a 911 dispatcher. When it was all over, 49 people were dead and more than 50 were wounded, and Mateen was shot and killed by the Orlando police’s SWAT team.