‘We Must Spare No Effort': Obama Addresses the Nation Following Deadliest Shooting in US History

Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday

President Obama addressed the nation Sunday following the deadly shooting at an Orlando nightclub, calling the massacre "an act of terror and an act of hate."

"Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, the horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people," Obama said. "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."

A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 49 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. It is the worst mass shooting in American history. 

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Sunday's address from the White House briefing room marked the 15th time during his presidency that Obama has spoken in the wake of a mass shooting, according to NBC News. The briefing room is named for James S. Brady, the former press secretary who was shot and permanently disabled in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, according to The Associated Press.

"We are still learning all the facts," Obama said.

Obama spoke after meeting with FBI Director James Comey and his homeland security and national security advisers, he said. The FBI is leading the investigation in partnership with local law enforcement agencies. 

"I've directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation," said Obama, who spoke earlier in the day with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

"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," Obama said. "As a country, we are going to be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come."

The suspect was identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Law enforcement sources told NBC News that Mateen was born in New York in 1986 and lived in Port St. Lucie, 125 miles south of Orlando. 

"We must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups," Obama said. "What is clear is that he was a person who was filled with hatred."

The suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the gay club known as Pulse around 2 a.m., when more than 300 people were inside. The gunman then went back inside and took hostages, Police Chief John Mina said.

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Around 5 a.m., authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages. 

"This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," Obama said.

"The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together with friends, to dance, and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub. It was a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people come together to raise awareness to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights," he said.

Expressing gratitude to law enforcement and first responders, Obama said the massacre was a "sobering reminder" that an attack on any American is an attack "on all of us."

"No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or our values as Americans," he said.

Obama signed a proclamation on Sunday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday in honor of the victims, the AP reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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