‘This was an act of terror and an act of hate’

President Obama speaking at podium (© AP Images)
President Obama speaks about the massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub during a news conference at the White House on June 12. (© AP Images)

(VOA) — A stern and somber U.S. President Obama took to the podium in the White House briefing room in Washington Sunday to express his condolences to the families of those killed overnight in an Orlando nightclub shooting.

It was the 15th time he has had to address the American people after a mass shooting during his tenure in office.

Obama said the massacre “marks the most deadly shooting in American history.” He said he was briefed at the White House by FBI Director James Comey and added: “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.”

The president said, “No act of terror or hate can change who we are,” but he added that the mass shooting is a “sobering reminder” that an attack on any American is an attack on all of us.

Obama addressed the fact that the brutal shooting and hostage-taking attack took place at an iconic gay nightclub.

“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — 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. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.”

The gunman responsible for the killing of at least 50 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub early Sunday has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent who the FBI said committed a crime that is being investigated as an “act of terrorism.”

Courtesy of Voice of America