ORLANDO —— FBI and law enforcement in Florida have not determined the motivation of a shooting in an Orlando gay night club early Sunday, but U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said he is certain the sexuality of victims was a factor.
“I don’t need investigators to tell me the gay community was targeted in this attack,” Rubio told The Advocate. “Watch the videos. We know what ISIS has done to people they accuse of being homosexual. They throw them off of buildings. They execute them.”
“It’s pretty clear that in addition to wanting to kill innocent Americans, there was an additional inspiration behind this. We are dealing with some evil, nasty human beings who are motivated by an ideology of hatred that needs to be defeated.”
Rubio said there is no doubt the shooting, now being called the biggest mass shooting event in U.S. history, was an act of terror. Omar Mateen, the suspected gunman who was killed at the scene, reportedly called 911 before the attack to indicate sympathy with the Islamic State.
When questioned repeatedly about whether this would fuel more calls like that of the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, to ban Muslims from entering the country, Rubio stressed that this attack was conducted by someone born and raised in the United States.
“We don’t even know that he traveled abroad,” Rubio said. “The homegrown violent extremist is the toughest terrorist target we’ve ever had in this country.”
Rubio has a long record of anti-LGBT policy views, as does another Florida politican who is also dealing with the fallout of this attack, Pam Bondi. As Florida's attorney general, she worked hardest to keep the state's ban on same-sex marriage in place.
Bondi said that, right now, law enforcement can only confirm Pulse is an LGBT club but cannot yet say hated of LGBT people influenced the attack.
“They were the victims and our hearts go out to all of the LGBT community, to those who have lost their lives and those that were injured,” said Bondi. “That is why we are bringing in advocates from throughout the state of Florida to help with counseling and with services needed, and perhaps compensation for funeral expenses.”
Services are being made available through the City of Orlando’s website.
Rubio said the whole nation should rally around victims of the attack.
“My focus is on the fact that innocent people who were doing nothing wrong, with plans to be somewhere doing something this afternoon, lost their lives,” he said, “and they were targeted and they were killed by this animal, who was born and raised in the United States of America and was radicalized while living here.”