Obama: Orlando Shooting an ‘Act of Terror and an Act of Hate’

June 12, 2016 3:11 pm Last Updated: June 17, 2016 3:33 pm

Visit here for full coverage of the Orlando mass shooting.

President Barack Obama spoke on Sunday about the mass shooting in Pulse nightclub that left 50 dead and 53 injured in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning.

“Today, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people,” he said in a brief statement broadcast by C-SPAN. “We pray for the 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 there’s no definitive answer on what led the gunman, Omar Mateen of Florida, to the rampage, Obama said authorities know enough to call it “an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Mateen, wielding a Sig Sauer MCX assault-style rifle and a handgun, opened fire inside a crowded Florida nightclub early Sunday before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. The attack left at least 50 people dead, making it the worst mass shooting in American history.

At least 53 other people were hospitalized, said Buddy Dyer, the Orlando mayor.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is cutting short a meeting in Beijing, China, to return to the United States immediately. 

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families during this very difficult time,” Lynch said in a statement. “The Department of Justice, including the FBI, the ATF, the National Security Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, is fully supporting the ongoing investigation.”

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reacted to the shooting on Twitter on Sunday.

“Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?” Trump Tweeted.

“Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act,” Clinton tweeted.

Obama used the opportunity to reiterate his position on gun control.

The attack was “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in the school or house of worship or movie theater or in a nightclub,” Obama said.

“We have to decide if that is the kind of country we want to be,” he said.

Lastly, Obama expressed confidence the attack won’t divide Americans.

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear and turn against each other,” he said. “Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation, to take action against those who threaten us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Visit here for full coverage of the Orlando mass shooting.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the type of weapon that was used in the attack.