The President and Vice President spoke with the grieving families
ORLANDO –President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden placed 49 white roses at a memorial for the 49 victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Thursday after meeting with the families of the victims, police and hospital workers.
Landing at Orlando International Airport with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., Obama was greeted at the steps of Air Force One by, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, both Republicans, highlighting the non-political nature of the president’s visit. Obama also accepted a T-shirt from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat.
Obama and Biden then went to the Amway Center, an arena about two miles from Pulse, the gay nightclub where an apparently self-radicalized security guard, Omar Mateen, opened fire early Sunday morning. Obama and Biden first privately met with law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting, the White House said.
Obama made the visit to the city “to make clear that the country stands with the people of Orlando, stands with the LGBT community in Orlando as they grieve for their loss,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
The President spoke after meeting privately with loved ones of those who were killed Sunday, including many young people in their 20s and 30s. He says the families’ grief is “beyond description.”
Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and they laid wreaths at a makeshift memorial in downtown Orlando.
The White House said that Obama and Biden also met with the owners and staff of the Pulse nightclub who were working when the attack occurred. Two employees were killed in the attack.
Just before leaving Orlando, President Obama said the attacks were not conducted by sophisticated cells, but by deranged individuals. And while the motivation may have been different than what led to attacks in communities like Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, the instruments of death were similar.
He said those killed and injured were gunned down by a single individual with a powerful assault weapon. Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Eric Schultz reiterated the administration’s support for legislation that would ban assault weapons.