By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – The U.S. government is providing $1 million in emergency funds to cover overtime for first responders to the Orlando nightclub massacre and stands in support of the LGBT community after the tragedy, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Tuesday.
Lynch spoke in Orlando after meeting with relatives of some of the 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the June 12 rampage and said there was no doubt it was a “shattering” attack on the United States, its people and its most fundamental ideals.
The massacre at Pulse, a gay dance club, was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, who used an assault rifle and pistol, was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.
Lynch said it was a “cruel irony” that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community – one defined almost entirely by who they love – was so often a target of hate.
“Let me say to our LGBT friends and family … this Department of Justice, and your country, stands with you in the light,” Lynch told a news conference.
“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.”
Lynch declined to give new details on the investigation, a day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Mateen had described himself as an “Islamic soldier” during the rampage.
Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State militant group in a 911 call from the nightclub, but authorities said he appears to have been “self-radicalized” and to have acted alone.
Citing unnamed law enforcement officials, CNN said on Tuesday that Mateen, 29, visited Pulse earlier on the night of his attack. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.
CNN also reported that the day before the rampage he bought plane tickets for himself, his wife and his child to travel in July from West Palm Beach, Florida, to San Francisco.
In a transcript of his calls released by the FBI on Monday, Mateen told police negotiators to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing Syria and Iraq, and he threatened to strap bomb vests on hostages, though no explosives were found at the scene.
(Reporting by Barbara Liston; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott)