LGBT New Yorkers Plan Vigils In Memory of Orlando Gay Bar Shooting Victims

Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter who was shot dead himself at about 5 a.m. this morning. | MYSPACE.COM

Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter who was shot dead himself at about 5 a.m. this morning. | MYSPACE.COM

As word spread early on Sunday morning of a shooting rampage in an Orlando Florida, gay bar that killed 50 patrons, LGBT and other New Yorkers announced plans for vigils in memory of the 50 who died and in support of the 53 people who were wounded.

According to police reports, Omar Mateen, a New York-born 29-year-old man who lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, stormed the Pulse nightclub at 2 a.m., where roughly 300 patrons were, with an assault rifle and a handgun. He shot patrons inside, and eventually held several dozen hostages, while others escaped or hid themselves in the bar, until about 5 a.m. when SWAT teams were able to confront him, at which time he was killed.

The rampage was the worst mass killing in US history.

Queer Nation and other activists are planning a rally for 6 p.m. this evening at the Stonewall Bar, 53 Christopher Street between Waverly Place and Seventh Avenue South.

Also this evening at 7:30 p.m., LGBT and Muslim activists will be joined by other leaders in a vigil at Diversity Plaza on 37th Road, between 73rd and 74th Streets, in Jackson Heights, Queens. The event was announced by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, out gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, Ali Najmi of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, and Agha Saleh, president of Sukhi New York, a group representing the South Asian community.

Diversity Plaza was the site of last Sunday’s Queens LGBT Pride Festival.

On Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m., the community will gather again in front of the Stonewall. That event is being coordinated by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. [Editor's note: On the morning of June 13, it was announced that remarks will begin at 7 p.m. at the Stonewall event, which will include appearances by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo.]

Mir Seddique, Mateen’s father, told NBC News that his son was angered several months ago when, accompanied by his own young son, Mateen witnessed two gay men kissing in Miami.

Mateen legally changed his last name a decade ago.

According to news reports, Mateen came to the attention of the FBI several years ago for potential links to suspected Islamic terrorists as well as statements he made on social media. According to NBC News, Mateen was investigated on two occasions but officials concluded there was no reason to continue tracking him. NBC News also reported that just prior to the attack on the Orlando club, Mateen called 911 and swore his allegiance to ISIS.

Mateen's ex-wife told the Washington Post that he was violent and mentally unstable and often beat her during their marriage.

In an appearance this afternoon to discuss the Orlando tragedy, President Barack Obama said, “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and an act of hate.”

In a nearly incomprehensible chest-thumping, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Lines have formed in Orlando with local residents giving blood. Under federal blood-giving guidelines, most gay men are barred from giving blood due to unscientific stigma about the risk that they will contaminate the blood supply with HIV.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that authorities in Santa Monica and West Hollywood have confirmed that a man who said he was headed to the Pride festival in West Hollywood today had possible explosives as well as assault rifles and ammunition in his car. The car had Indiana license plates.

[Editor's note: In the Hudson Valley, the community will gather “in solidarity with the men and women who perished in the recent shooting at the Pulse Club in Orlando” at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, 300 Wall Street in Kingston at 5:30 p.m. on June 13.]