On Sunday, June 9th in Orlando, FL, a gay nightspot, Pulse Nightclub, became the scene of a very deadly hate crime.
The gunman, American-born, 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen changed America forever. Shocking details have been released, exposing that Mateen is no stranger to run-ins with the law. In 2013 and 2014 he was interviewed by the FBI after expressing sympathy for a suicide bomber, but was not found to be a threat.
Since 2007, Mateen worked at G4S Secure Solutions, one of the world’s largest private security companies. Even more disturbing, according to U.S. officials, the gunman allegedly called 911 during the attack, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations, the European Union, and member states including the United States, Russia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria. Officials state that during this call, Mateen also referenced the Boston Marathon bombers.
Around 2 a.m., Mateen walked into Pulse Nightclub with an assault riffle and a pistol. Within minutes he took the lives of 49 men and women, ages 19 to 50-years-old and wounded more than 53 others.
Following a deadlock of nearly three hours with people trapped inside, Orlando police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed Omar Mateen. Orlando Chief of Police John Mina states “It appears he was organized and well-prepared”. No accomplices have been identified at this time.
President Obama made a statement sharing sympathy with those impacted saying “this was an act of terror and hate…this could have been any one of us.”
When interviewed, the Afganistan-born parents of Mateen said they do recall their son being outraged after seeing two men kiss in Miami, but did not know him to have any religious or terrorist group affiliations. Mateens former wife Sitora Yusufiy told CNN that she and Omar’s relationship seemed fine initially, but took a turn for the worse when Mateen began abusing her just a few months after sharing vows in 2009. Yusufiy also mentions that Mateen had a history with steroids and was bipolar, though there is no formal documentation to support this.
Amongst those lives loss was Antonio Davon Brown. Brown attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) where he studied criminal justice and was active in the university’s ROTC program. Upon graduating in 2008, Brown selflessly made a decision to serve the country by joining the U.S. Army, where he served in Kuwait from April 2010 to March 2011. One year later, in March 2012, Brown was made a captain, where he served until his most recent position as a Troop Program Unit soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve. Brown’s alma mater, FAMU, released the following statement:
Our hearts go out to all of the families of those affected in the tragic shooting that took place in Orlando on Sunday morning. The horrendous incident happened not far from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Law School in downtown Orlando.
We are especially saddened by the news that one of the victims was part of the FAMU family. 29-year-old Antonio Davon Brown was a criminal justice major from Cocoa Beach, Florida and a member of ROTC during his time on the Hill. He graduated from FAMU in 2008 and is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media. We will continue to update you about plans for a memorial or service of remembrance for alumnus Brown.
In the meantime, the Florida A&M University community stands with the entire Orlando community in the wake of tragedy. Our thoughts, and prayers for peace, are with everyone in central Florida and across this nation.