Washington was quick to weigh in Sunday following the nation's deadliest mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando as the broadcast and cable nets dropped regular programming to cover the shooting and its aftermath.
Early reports were suggesting it was tied to terrorism.
"Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families," Tweeted Donald Trump, before turning it slightly toward a campaign position/ "When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?" Following that with: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
The President spoke to the nation at about 2 p.m., wtih broadcast and cable news nets covering the address live. He said there was no definitive decision on the mostive, but said: "We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate." He said no act of hate or terror will change "the values that mke us Americans." He said that, "in the face of hate and violence, we will love one another." He did not take questions.
Former Republican Candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio kept his comments focused on the tragedy.
“As local, state and federal authorities investigate the perpetrator of this attack, my Senate office and I stand ready to assist - both by making sure the full weight of the federal government is used to hold anyone responsible for this incident to account, and also with any constituent service needs that arise for the impacted families," he said. “Confronting the threat of violent homegrown radicalization is one of the greatest counterterrorism challenges our law enforcement and intelligence community faces. We must do more at every level of government and within our own communities to identify and mitigate this cancer on our free society and prevent further loss of innocent life. Instead, tragedies like we saw in Orlando only strengthen our resolve to fight back against terror and prevail over extremism wherever it emerges.”
As chairman of Homeland Security McCaul may have more information, but at press time reports were remaining cautious about asserting a direct tie to Islamic terrorism, though various reports had the shooter pledging his allegiance to the head of ISIS. NBC Newsman Pete Williams reported that the shooter had called 911 moments before to pledge that allegiance.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the victims of this horrific attack in Orlando," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. "I have spoken with the FBI and there appears to be a link to Islamic radicalism. I have conferred with additional sources and they think there is likely a connection with ISIS. So as we all mourn the senseless loss of life and investigators continue to learn more, we must remain vigilant and remember that if you see something, say something.”
According to CNN, KABC TV Los Angelees was also reporting that a man was taken into custody in that city who was found to have explosive powder, assault weapons and a camoflage outfit in his car and said he was heading to the L.A. gay pride festival.
Florida governor Rick Scott's advice in a televised press conference following the tragedy: "Pray for everybody." Scott said it was "clearly" an act of terror.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that after an initial issue with health privacy restrictions prevented doctors from communicating with family members of the victims, the White House intervened to get those restrictions waived.
The White House said the President was briefed on the shooting by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims," the White House said in a statement.
The President said the killings again showed how easy it was to get a firearm and use it in such a crime. He called an attack on any Americans as an attack on all of them.
The President directed all flags on government buildings to be lowered to half staff.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said she was returning to the U.S. immediately from the U.S.-China Cyber Ministerial in Beijing to monitor the situation.
“America's mayors stand with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and all in Orlando on this very sad day," said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "The Orlando community is strong, has already demonstrated its unity in responding to this tragedy, and will get through this difficult time. The victims, their families, and all of the people in Orlando are in our thoughts and prayers."
"Our prayers go out to the family and victims of this horrific terrorist attack directed to the LGBT community during gay pride month," said Robert Maldonado, national president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. "While this was an attack on our LGBT and Latino brothers and sisters, let us be clear, this was an attack on all Americans. We must never bow to the forces of hate and intolerance. The HNBA stands in solidarity with Orlando."
"Violence of this magnitude belongs to no religious, racial or ethnic group," said the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). "ADC has always stood, and will continue to stand, against discrimination and hate crimes against all communities, including the LGBTQ community. We have worked regularly with the LGBTQ community, as they have been on the forefront of helping combat Islamophobia and Anti-Arab sentiment."
As part of continuing coverage, NBC anchor Lester Holt will anchor coverage from Orlando Sunday evening, and will anchor a “Dateline NBC” special report.
Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Greta Van Susteren are anchoring coverage from Orlando Monday (June 13).
On CBS, Scott Pelley will anchor an expanded edition of CBS Evening News news Sunday, after which 60 Mintues will update the story with the latest info.
On Monday, Pelley will anchor the CBS Evening News from Orlando.
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