Posts Tagged As: Orlando FL

Report: Mateen Cased Other Orlando Gay Bars Before the Attack

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2016

The East Orlando Post reports:

Micah Bass, owner of the recently opened Revere Nightclub and The M Hotel, informed the East Orlando Post that Mateen had sent him a friend request on Facebook late last week.

“With running The M and Revere, I constantly get requests from LGBT allies, performers, and potential guests who just want to have fun and spend time with family and friends.”

Earlier today, Bass notified the FBI of Mateen’s activity on social media and is reviewing security footage to see if the suspected shooter or any potential accomplices did, in fact, visit the property in the weeks leading up Sunday’s tragedy at Pulse.

…Veteran investigator and former Orlando law enforcement officer James Copenhaver observed that Mateen could have very well investigated several venues before selecting Pulse Nightclub to carry out what Florida Governor Rick Scott has called a “terrorist attack.”

“My training and experience suggest the shooter was scoping out LGBT clubs by friending club owners, club staff, and even customers of the LGBT clubs in the Orlando area on social media.”

Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2016

These are the names of the dead as of late last night.

Edward "Top Hat Eddie" Sotomayor, Jr., 34 years old.

Edward “Top Hat Eddie” Sotomayor, Jr., 34 years old. A brand manager for a travel agency that specializes in gay cruises.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old. A pharmacy tech, originally from Massachusetts. “Always bubbly and super down to earth and such a sweet guy.”

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old. Friends called him “Omar.” One aunt says he now “dances freely in heaven.”

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old (left). His boyfriend, Drew Leinonen, was also at the night club. As of Sunday night, he was unaccounted for.

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old (left). His boyfriend, Drew Leinonen, was also at the night club. Late last night, his mother confirmed that he had died. Drew had established a Gay-Straight Alliance in his high school.

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old. Originally from Puerto Rico, he had been married to his husband for about a year.

Peter Ommy Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Peter Ommy Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old. Originally from New Jersey. “R.I.P. Peter Ommy. A great person with a beautiful smile.”

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old. A student at Seminole State College. Worked the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride at Universal Orlando Resort.

Kimberly"KJ" Morris, 37 years old, a bouncer at Pulse.

Kimberly”KJ” Morris, 37 years old, a bouncer at Pulse. Friends remembered her dancing and her smile.

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old. Mommy I love you,” he texted to his mother at 2:06 a.m. “In club they shooting.”

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old. “Mommy I love you,” he texted to his mother at 2:06 a.m. “In club they shooting.”

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old. (No photo available as of 10:15 PDT.)

… And 39 others.

Who Is Omar Mateen?

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

Omar-mateen_640x345_acf_cropped-1The Hill reports:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility Sunday for a deadly nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that left 50 dead and 53 injured. “The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” ISIS said in a statement. The organization offered no proof for the attacks.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 1.47.03 PM

ISIS’ claim of responsibility came several hours after news of the attack hit the news. It’s important to remember that authorities have not established a connection between the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen and ISIS. Friends, family, and an ex-wife all say he was not particularly religious. Co-workers at the security company he worked for called the FBI in 2013 after he made comments about terrorist connections, but the FBI investigation found no basis for concern. The FBI investigated in 2014 over potential ties with someone who became an Al-Quida suicide bomber in Syria. That investigation was inconclusive.

The FBI did put him on a watch list, but that alone was not enough to prevent Mateen to purchase an AR-15. Congress refused to close that loophole last December. ATF says that Mateen legally purchased his weapons in the last week. Shortly before attacking Pulse, Mateen called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. According to NBC News:

Investigators are trying to determine whether religious extremism motivated the attack and piece together what exactly set off Mateen, who lived less than two hours south of Orlando in Port St. Lucie and worked as a security guard.

Mateen didn’t appear to have any direct ties with ISIS, sources told NBCNews, although he was a follower of ISIS propaganda and referenced the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, at the scene of the shooting.

Based on what we know so far, the most immediate reason why Mateen chose this particular target and these particular people appears to be what Mateen saw in Miami:

Because of his name and heritage, there were immediate questions about Mateen’s possible ties to Islamic fundamentalism. But his father told NBC News that his son was affected by a recent incident involving two men showing each other affection.

“We were in Downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music. And he saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry,” Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News on Sunday. “They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’ And then we were in the men’s bathroom and men were kissing each other.”

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique said. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”

Seddique added: “This had nothing to do with religion.”

Mateen’s ex-wife describes him as being very violent:

“He was not a stable person,” said the ex-wife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety in the wake of the mass shooting. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

…“He seemed like a normal human being,” she said, adding that when they were married he wasn’t very religious and often worked out at the gym. She said in the few months they were married he gave no signs of having fallen under the sway of radical Islam. She said he owned a small-caliber handgun.

Reports: Orlando Blood Donations Being Accepted from ALL Doners

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

There’s an arbitrary FDA ban on blood donations for gay men who have had sex in the past year. It appears that the ban has been lifted, at least temporarily in Orlando. U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) released this statement at 12:30 am EST Sunday:

“Due to the critical need for blood donations in Orlando, ALL blood donations will be accepted and screened. Nobody will be turned away because of their sexual orientation. O Positive and O Negative blood types are needed most urgently. Please make appointments to donate throughout the week as there will be a continued need.”

HIV Plus magazine noticed earlier that local hospitals appear to be accepting blood from all comers.

Update: Others are suggesting that the blood banks are accepting donations, but are probably using the application forms to screen out those who answer the gay-and-had-sex question to dispose of that donation.

President: “This Was an Act of Terror and an Act of Hate”

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

Here is a transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks on today’s massacre:

Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder — a horrific massacre — of dozens of innocent people.  We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts.  We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city.  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.  And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.

I just finished a meeting with FBI Director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisors.  The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation, in partnership with local law enforcement.  I’ve directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.

We are still learning all the facts.  This is an open investigation.  We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer.  The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism.  And I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what — if any — inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.  What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred.  Over the coming days, we’ll uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us.

This morning I spoke with my good friend, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and I conveyed the condolences of the entire American people.  This could have been any one of our communities.  So I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help he and the people of Orlando need — they are going to get it.  As a country, we will be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and for all the days to come.

We also express our profound gratitude to all the police and first responders who rushed into harm’s way.  Their courage and professionalism saved lives, and kept the carnage from being even worse.  It’s the kind of sacrifice that our law enforcement professionals make every single day for all of us, and we can never thank them enough.

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.

So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.  And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history.  The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle.  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, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub.  And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.  And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy.  Their names.  Their faces.  Who they were.  The joy that they brought to families and to friends, and the difference that they made in this world.  Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families — that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable.  And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change.  We need to demonstrate that we are defined more — as a country — by the way they lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts — friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives.  In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.  We will not give in to fear or turn against each other.  Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.

May God bless the Americans we lost this morning.  May He comfort their families.  May God continue to watch over this country that we love.  Thank you.

Reports: Shooter Pledged Allegiance to ISIS

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

Both CNN and NBC are reporting that shortly before the shooting, Omar Mateen called 911 and claimed allegiance to ISIS.

Council On American-Islamic Relations React

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any gropu that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.

Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Blood Donors Needed In Orlando, But Many Gay Men Can’t Donate

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

If this doesn’t beat all:

The need for blood after a shooting at a gay nightclub resurfaced complaints on social media about limits on gay men’s ability to donate blood. In December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted a lifetime ban for gay men, but continued to prohibit men from donating if they had had sex with men in the past year.

Equality Florida Reacts

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

This is a press release sent out by Equality Florida:

We are reeling from the tragic news that a gunman opened fire on the 2am capacity crowd at Pulse leaving 50 people dead and over 50 injured according to preliminary reports.

We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country.

Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument.

We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.

Plans are underway for the following. More details to come.

* The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida is now open and offering grief counseling to those affected by the Pulse Orlando massacre. They are encouraging anyone who needs help and support to please come to the center.
Address: 946 N Mills Ave Orlando, Florida 32803
Phone Number: (407) 228-8272

*For anyone needing support today, you may call the Zebra Coalition hotline at (407) 228-1446 to speak to a counselor.

* OneBlood, the local blood bank in Orlando, has posted an EMERGENCY need for O-, O+, and AB Plasma in the light of last night’s tragedy. If any of you have a chance today to go donate blood or plasma PLEASE DO. You could very well save someone’s life. To find a donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit or call 1.888.9Donate.

First Unitarian Church
1901 East Robinson Street
Orlando, FL 32803
now through 1 PM

Weingarten Realty
2566 E Colonial Drive
>12 pm-6 pm

Orlando Donor Center
8669 Commodity Circle
now til 1 o’clock

West Orlando Donor Center
345 W Michigan St Suite 106
now til 2 o’clock

* A vigil tomorrow pending clearance from police. To receive updates on the vigil with details as we receive them, sign up here:

* A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise funds for the victims and families of the horrific Orlando Pulse Nighclub Shooting:

Early Reactions

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From CNN:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”

Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, briefed the President, Earnest said. He said Obama asked for regular updates as federal and state officials investigate the shooting, which killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 others.

Vice President Joe Biden has also been briefed on the shooting and canceled a planned trip to Miami, Florida, to attend a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Biden “offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims,” according to a statement from his spokesman.

Other reactions came in via Twitter

By the way, Rick Scott has spent the about five minutes talking about this on TV without mentioning the word “gay” once. Good job Rick!

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.57.35 AM

That last one is from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, whose account tweeted that out hours after the shooting started. The time stamp at precisely 5:00 a.m. suggests it was a previously scheduled tweet. It has since been deleted in the past half hour (sometime after 10:20 a.m. Central Time)

“Mommy I Love You”

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016

From the LA Times:

Witnesses said they heard at least 40 shots fired, and one witness said the shooting lasted the length of an entire song. As bullets tore through the crowd, men and women took cover by dropping to the floor and crawling for cover. Some apparently hid in the restrooms, including one man whose texts to his mother were broadcast over WFTV-TV:

“Mommy I love you”

“In club they shooting”

“He’s coming”

“I’m gonna die”

“He’s in the bathroom with us”

The fate of the young man, who was not identified by the station, was not immediately known. Just after the shooting, Pulse Orlando posted a note to its Web page that said, “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

DEVELOPING: At Least 50 Dead, 53 Injured In Orlando Gay Night Club Massacre

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2016


It is being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history since the 1921 Greenwood Massacre in Tulsa. These are the basic facts. Shooting broke out shortly after 2:00 a.m. in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.  A police officer was working in the club and exchanged fire with the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, 29, from Ft. Pierce. Mateen then took about thirty hostages until about 5.00 a.m. when a SWAT team came in to free the hostages. Mateen was killed in the massive barrage of gunfire during the shootout.

The club was packed with about 320 people. As the shooting started, some mistook the gunfire as part of the music, similar to what happened during the first few seconds of the Bataclan theater massacre in Paris. As the tragedy unfolded, the city of Orlando ran out of ambulances to take the injured to hospitals. Some were transported by pickup trucks. Around 2 a.m., Pulse Orlando posted an urgent message on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Reports about Mateen himself and his possible motives are conflicting right now. His parents are from Afghanistan, but he may have been born in the U.S. He was a U.S. citizen, and worked as a security guard in Ft. Pierce. His father told NBC News that the motive was not religious, but that Mateen became angry two weeks ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami. One report says that Mateen had a license to carry guns. It’s not known whether the guns used in this massacre, which included an AR-15, were legal. Reports also say that police are including a possible terror motive as part of their investigation. Police say that Mateen was “previously known” to law enforcement, but say that he was not under active investigation as of last night. NBC reports that Mateen was in a database as a person of interest, not necessarily as part of a direct investigation but for the potential of  what NBC described as “peripheral associations.”

The L.A. Times put this in context:

Now no other American mass shooting comes close to the lives lost in Orlando on Sunday morning. Not at Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 people died in 1999; nor in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed in 2012; nor at Virginia Tech, where 32 people were killed in 2007.

NOM in Georgia and Florida

Timothy Kincaid

August 8th, 2010

The time has come that we must now stand for marriage. I know how busy you are, with family, church, work and other commitments. Maybe you have never stood at a public rally or protest before. But if we don’t stand for marriage now, it could soon be too late.

With these stirring words, the National Organization for Marriage called for those who “support traditional marriage” to act now, join them on Saturday in Atlanta to show strength and unity in advancing their cause. And as an extra incentive, in Atlanta they had as a headliner Alveda King, MLK’s niece.

And drew their smallest crowd to date. (Tour Tracker)

We see that Dr. Alveda King has made it. She’s joined by only about 16 NOM supporters (Louis would call it 20 but we’re not counting you, Brian, Justin, Mike, the videographer, or the speakers).

Although their turnout was tiny, at least there was some racial diversity in Atlanta. In addition to King, two gospel singers entertained the few supporters (and the protesters, who enjoyed a song about unity) and there appear to have been a few African-Americans among the supporters.

Speaking of the protesters,

While today’s event may go differently, the outpouring of support from the pro-equality community is no different. We’re standing in a crowd of 254 equality supporters standing alongside a church across the street from the State Capitol.

The protesters rallied earlier at park before marching down to hold their silent protest of NOM’s event. Their crowds keep getting smaller and the protests larger, but I think that perhaps 16 supporter to 254 protesters might be the all-time worst ratio for any marriage-related event. So, if nothing else, I guess NOM can be proud that they’re setting records. Maybe that’s what NOM meant by “We just wrapped up a terrific rally with Dr. Alveda King in Atlanta.”

So then they were on to Orlado, Florida, were NOM did the smart thing and took their rally inside. This makes sense as their rallies are pretty much just religious speech anyway and their supporters often tend to be folks that are not accustomed to standing for an hour in the sun. Of course the trade-off is that church services don’t make very effective media images.

But air conditioning and a church pew were undoubtedly welcome for the 34 people who came to hear NOM. Amusingly but without even noting the irony, Brian Brown exhorted his audience – resting in the church – to stand for truth in the public square: “Each and every one of us has the responsibility to stand up for the good. This is our time to stand!”

NOM has been counting on the overturning of Prop 8 to provide a jump-boost to interest in their cause. Unable to get, well, hardly anyone to show up and support them, NOM was sure that churches and politicians would flock out now that Judge Walker had shown that there was a Real Threat to marriage. (Sunshine State News)

Well, this is Florida, it isn’t California. We have some powerful people in this state who respect our state Constitution and the laws in it,” [NOM spokesperson Ellen] Johnson said.

Some of those “powerful people” are running for office. And if ever the National Organization for Marriage wanted to get them on the record in support of their conservative position – and believed they had a chance to do it – it’s now, one day from the start of early voting in Florida

“This being a big year for conservative values, I think the candidates will back us up,” Johnson said.

If by “back us up,” Johnson meant “stay away and pretend they’ve never heard of you” then she’d be correct. It turns out that Florida’s politicians all had better things to do than have their picture taken in the same room as Brian Brown.

Meanwhile, outside, there was the now-common protest crowd.

134 equality activists are lining the sidewalk outside of the church, including the angels from Stand Up Florida and members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I’m sure that NOM’s Louis Marinelli is delighted that the Sisters showed up; the Sisters are the anti-gays’ very favorite gay activist group. Yes, you and I know that they are street theater and that they actually raise a lot of money each year for charitable causes, but they also make very good propaganda material for those who want to claim that we all just want to mock them, their faith, and their God.

But at least there was no confrontation for NOM to videotape and the “gays hate God” message was diluted by the protesters joining in prayer.


Project Q has a great write-up of the Atlanta rally.


As expected, NOM’s bus driver, Louis Marinelli, entirely ignored his own little rally (and I do mean little rally), choosing to obsess instead about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Angels. Oddly, Louis didn’t have a clue who these people were or why they were there. He somehow thought it was something about Halloween.

He didn’t recognize the habits (he thought they were wedding veils) and he thought it was the Angels that were a mockery. Lordy. I’m beginning to get the impression that Louis is perhaps uniquely situated for a career in driving buses.

The protest NOM does NOT want to see

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2010

At each stop on their Tour of Mostly-Empty City Plazas, the National Organization for Marriage pays far more time and attention to those protesting them than they do to their own supporters. If the protest is unruly, they make a huge stink about how they are being their denied their right to free speech (not subjected to criticism) and being shouted down by those who have talk about tolerance but have no tolerance (for NOM’s intolerance).

HCR even speculated that their sole purpose for the tour was to find someone out there who would threaten them and justify their efforts to keep their donors and supporters anonymous.

But while NOM unquestionably delighted in the Providence rally at which a few equality activists stormed the podium and gave them good video and were even pleased by their ability to edit the tape of the Madison rally so as to make it appear that protesters were deliberately screaming at and booing a priest while he was praying, I don’t think they much will enjoy the counter-protest planned by Stand-Up Florida for their Orlando stop.

Once at the protest, guest speakers will speak words of wisdom from their hearts. We have a great host of speakers attending this counter protest and the Angels from the Angel Action Network will also appear to block the N.O.M. protesters from our counter protest. We will be working in conjuction with a group, Come Out Orlando.

We also will be offering candles for a vigil and for those who would like to kneel down and pray with us in a silent prayer for N.O.M.

We will finish the counter protest, with our backs facing N.O.M., singing “Amazing Grace.”

I just don’t think that NOM has much use for video of their opponents singing Amazing Grace. And they certainly don’t want news cameras contrasting their supporters in their lawnchairs with ernest gay and gay-supporting people in silent prayer. It makes it hard to claim that you are the good guy.

I can’t wait to see the pictures.

Orlando LGBT Center Vandalized

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

WKMG in Orlando reports:

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida — more commonly known as The Center — and a second nearby gay-owned business were targeted by vandals who spray painted with a swastika and the words “Gay Pawer,” “Die Fags,” “Go To Hell” and other homophobic slurs. Damage to the two buildings is estimated to be over $1,000.

…Fund raising efforts to install security cameras have been ramped up in the wake of the incident.

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