DHS Reacts to Orlando Massacre

Christy Koh, National/World Editor

Saturday nights at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, are usually packed with patrons celebrating Latin Night and partying early into the next morning. But on Sunday, June 12, the lives of these people were irrevocably shattered. Armed with an assault rifle and a semiautomatic pistol, terrorist Omar Mateen broke into the nightclub at 2 am, killing 49 and injuring 53. He falsely threatened police with hidden explosives before they launched the assault that killed him, terminating a 3-hour standoff.

With a third of the people at the nightclub slaughtered, the massacre has been branded the deadliest terror attack in the US since 9/11.

Investigations into Mateen’s background reveal that he had been previously interrogated by the FBI for claiming connections with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. During the Orlando Massacre, he declared allegiance to the Islamic State and referenced the Boston Marathon bombers. In response to this, President Obama raised concerns about the ability of online propaganda to inspire such instances of “homegrown extremism.” The shooting also renewed the debate on gun control, imbuing it with increased pain and urgency.

Furthermore, Matteen was discovered to have a history of domestic violence. According to an interview with Democracy Now, Mateen’s ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy claims, “… he started abusing me physically, very often, … keeping me hostage from [my family].” In the end, her family rescued her from the abusive relationship.

Friends and relatives of victims in the shooting were shaken by such a brutal attack hitting so close to home. Despite the sorrow caused, Mateen’s direct aggression against homosexuals has also prompted increased support for the LGBT community; colorful bouquets line the outside of Orlando Regional Medical Center, and signs offer grief and trauma counseling for victims and relatives. In Paris, the Eiffel tower lights up with brilliant hues of the rainbow in remembrance of the victims.

Although Pulse has been closed since the shooting, owner Barbara Poma hopes to reopen the club and turn it into a positive symbol for the gay community. In an emotional interview on Today, she said, “We just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep our spirits alive. We’re not going to let someone take this away from us.”



The Dublin Shield interviewed several DHS students to seek out their thoughts on the Orlando Massacre.

Sophomore Neha Harpanhalli described herself as saddened by the violence while firmly asserting her belief in equality for all.

“All lives are precious no matter who they are,” agreed sophomore Kaitlyn Huynh. “People should not just randomly kill others to support their beliefs.”

Alicia Chen, also a sophomore, expressed concern for the safety of the community. “This attack on homosexuality is almost as if saying we can’t be ourselves,” she protested. “Attacks like this are a threat to the community’s safety — citizens everywhere and anywhere should be on higher alert for preventive measures.”

“The Orlando shooting makes me really sad that people hate the LGBTQ+ community enough to shoot tons of innocent people,” said one junior. “It definitely changes my views of other people.”

“I feel like people should just accept that LGBTQ people exist and stop hating them for embracing their sexuality,” declared sophomore Megan Leng. “It’s 2016, gay marriage is legal, and pulling such a [expletive] move isn’t going to make the LGBTQ community disappear — they’re stronger than that.”

Sophomore Annari Phomsouvandara felt that the massacre opened her eyes to the apparent need for gay rights and acceptance of the gay community. “We’re all human despite our sexualities, and no one deserves to die for that,” she concluded.