U.S. political leaders on Sunday offered their condolences in social media tributes after a mass shooting inside a gay nightclub in Orlando left at least 50 people killed and 53 others wounded.
A gunman opened fire and took hostages at the popular nightclub, Pulse Orlando, at about 2 a.m. before being killed in a gun battle with authorities. The FBI says the attack is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
President Barack Obama was briefed about the shooting early Sunday and has directed federal officials to provide “any necessary assistance to pursue the investigation and support the community,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement said. Vice President Joe Biden also sent his condolences and is “closely monitoring the situation,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also responded to the tragedy. “Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL,” Clinton wrote on Twitter. “As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act.”
In an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned the attack. “Oh, it’s horrific, it’s unthinkable,” he said. “And just hopes go out to all those who were shot that they can recover.”
Trump alerted his supporters on Twitter to a “really bad shooting in Orlando.” “Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded,” he tweeted.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott offered his condolences and said “every resource” is available for assistance efforts. “My prayers are with the victims’ families & all those affected by the shooting in Orlando,” he tweeted. Condolences also came from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio also said “prayers are with those injured and killed” in the “horrifying act of terror in Orlando.”
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy slammed Congress in the wake of the shootings. “Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening silence,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick, who is known for his conservative views, came under fire for tweeting a Bible passage after the shooting that read: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” The post was deleted and was not written in response to the Orlando tragedy, Patrick’s advisor Allen Blakemore said in a statement.
“Lt. Governor Patrick and every Texan is stunned and saddened by the outrageous act of domestic terrorism that has occurred in Orlando,” Blakemore said, adding that the specific tweet was scheduled to go up on Sunday after being drafted last week. “We regret the unfortunate timing of these posts and ask everyone to join us in praying for the people of Orlando in this awful time.”
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