A Florida Muslim leader, invited by Orlando officials to speak to reporters during the first news conference held by law enforcement following the Orlando terror attack, used the opportunity to allude to gun control and to warn Americans and the media not to sensationalize the attack.
“No one could have predicted this, no one could have prepared for it. This could have happened anywhere. it’s like lightning,” Muhammad Musri, senior imam and president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said while standing alongside local lawmakers and members of law enforcement.
Musri also described the attack as a mass shooting unconnected to any terror organization, despite the fact the FBI is investigating whether the gunman who killed 50 at Pulse nightclub early Sunday was part of a larger terror network.
“We are glad the situation is completely under control, there are no other shooters that this person is [known] to be connected with, a network or other people,” Musri said. “The city residents and the visitors should feel safe.”
However, the FBI is still investigating whether the gunman, Omar Mateen, was a “lone wolf” or part of a network that still poses a threat.
“While we feel confident right now there are no other immediate threats to immediate area or the United States of America, we want to be certain of that before we put any further information out,” said FBI special agent in charge Ron Hopper at the news conference.
NBC News later confirmed from law-enforcement officials that Mateen had called 9-1-1 moments before the shooting to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS.
Mateen also referenced the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, at the scene, sources said.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has said Senate Intelligence is investigating a possible tie to ISIS.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper said the network would no longer identify Mateen during news coverage of the shooting aftermath: “We are now learning more about the suspect, learning more about him, let us use the information that I’m about to share with you sparingly, his name was Omar Mateen, that is a name I will not mention again for the rest of the show. And that is his photograph, we know he was training as a private security guard … let us take that graphic down.”
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The Pulse massacre is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the 2007 Virginia Tech slaying in which a student shot and killed 32 people.
“We hope this would be the last of the mass shootings that our country has been going through,” Musri said. “Um, I think as a nation we need to look at this issue of mass shootings because we just had one too many today, and I think we should do something about it to stop the mass shootings that are happening all the time.”