June 21, 2016 at 8:16 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Loretta Lynch: Pulse nightclub massacre ‘shattering attack’

Loretta Lynch, gay news, Washington Blade, Department of Justice Pride

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch traveled to Orlando, Fla., on June 21, 2016. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday described the Pulse nightclub massacre as “a shattering attack.”

“There is no doubt that this was a shattering attack — on our nation, on our people and on our most fundamental ideals,” she said in a statement to reporters in Orlando, Fla.

Lynch met with federal, state and local officials and first responders. She also sat down with some of the family members of those who were killed or wounded inside the Pulse nightclub on June 12.

“I could not be more proud of all the members of the Orlando community that I’ve encountered today — and I’ve made clear that the Department of Justice stands with them,” said Lynch.

Lynch also spoke directly to Orlando’s LGBT community that continues to reel from the massacre.

“The LGBT community in particular has been shaken by this attack,” she said. “It is indeed a cruel irony that a community defined almost exclusively by whom they love is so often a target of hate.”

“Let me say to our LGBT friends and family, particularly to anyone who might view this tragedy as an indication that their identities – their essential selves might somehow be better left unexpressed or in the shadows: This Department of Justice — and your country — stands with you in the light,” added Lynch. “We stand with you to say that the good in the world far outweighs the evil; that our common humanity transcends our differences; and that our most effective response to terror and hatred is compassion, unity and love.”

President Obama on June 16 described the Pulse nightclub massacre as “an attack on the LGBT community” when he spoke to reporters after he and Vice President Biden placed bouquets at a makeshift memorial to the victims in downtown Orlando. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said the shooting was a “hate crime” when he spoke at the State Department’s annual Pride event in Washington.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state Attorney General Pam Bondi faced sharp criticism from activists and their supporters in the days after the massacre for not specifically mentioning the LGBT community in their public remarks about it.

Officials release redacted 911 call transcript, reverse course

The gunman, Omar Mateen, opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub shortly after 2 a.m. on June 12.

Mateen’s father said that his son recently became “very angry” when he saw two men kissing in Miami. Reports also indicate that Mateen had previously visited the Pulse nightclub and used gay hookup apps.

Mateen pledged his allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in a 911 call he made from inside the gay nightclub, even through there is no evidence to suggest the Sunni militant group prompted him to carry out the massacre.

The Justice Department on Monday released a redacted transcript of the 911 call that did not include the reference to the Sunni militant group. Officials later released reversed course in the wake of criticism from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republicans.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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