Orlando families to bury victims, ask
Obama for change
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[June 17, 2016]
By Bernie Woodall
ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Families of some
of the 49 people killed in a massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub will
mourn and bury their dead on Friday, a day after President Barack Obama
met survivors and said the United States must act to control gun
Funerals are expected to be held over the next two weeks.
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25, like many of the victims of the
Pulse club mass shooting, was from Puerto Rico. He is to be buried
on Friday, according to the Newcomer Funeral Home, a day after more
than 150 friends and family mourned him at a wake.
Obama, who traveled to Orlando on Thursday and met survivors and
families of those who died, told reporters: "I held and hugged
grieving family members and parents, and they asked, 'Why does this
He urged Congress to pass measures to make it harder to legally
acquire high-powered weapons like the semi-automatic rifle used in
the attack on Sunday.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were in Orlando after a U.S.-born
gunman claiming allegiance to various Islamist militant groups
carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
During the shooting rampage the gunman, Omar Mateen, exchanged text
messages with his wife, CNN reported on Thursday, as well as posting
on Facebook and placing a phone call to a television station. Police
killed Mateen, 29, a U.S. citizen born in New York to Afghan
Obama, who has visited mass shooting victims' families in towns from
San Bernardino, California, to Newtown, Connecticut, since becoming
president, laid flowers at a memorial for the victims of the attack
on the Pulse nightclub.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack but U.S.
officials have said they do not believe Mateen was assisted from
abroad. A married couple also claiming allegiance to Islamic State
shot dead 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December.
BEFORE THE MADNESS
On Thursday, more than 300 people, including Florida Governor Rick
Scott, attended the viewing for Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, who was born
in Dorado, Puerto Rico. He was 36 when he was killed during a night
of dancing to celebrate a friend's new house. His husband had stayed
home that night in the couple's apartment.
"He was in a Snapchat video that's out there, dancing away, so we
know he had some fun before the madness," said his cousin, Orlando
Twenty-three of the 53 wounded remained hospitalized, six in
critical condition, according to the Orlando Regional Medical
[to top of second column]
President Barack Obama (L) and Vice President Joe Biden place
flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victims of the massacre
at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 16, 2016.
CNN reported, citing a law enforcement official it did not identify,
that Mateen exchanged text messages with his wife, Noor Salman,
during the three hours he was holed up in a bathroom inside the
nightclub. Salman is under investigation to find out whether she
knew about Mateen's plans ahead of time.
CONGRESS UNDER PRESSURE
The massacre put pressure on Congress to act.
Mateen carried out the slaughter with an assault weapon and handgun
that had been legally purchased although he had twice been
investigated by the FBI for possible connections with militant
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate,
said the chamber would most likely vote on four gun control measures
However, no formal deal between the parties for votes was announced,
and it was unclear when and how the Senate would proceed with the
votes, which would be amendments to an appropriations bill funding
the Commerce and Justice departments.
Republicans, who hold a 54-person majority in the 100-seat Senate,
have blocked a number of Democratic-backed gun control measures over
the years, saying they infringed on Americans' constitutional right
to bear arms.
(Additional reporting by Julia Harte and Peter Eisler in Orlando,
Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay in Washington and Zachary
Fagenson in West Palm Beach, Florida; Writing by Fiona Ortiz;
Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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