On Sunday morning, the country woke up to a horrific act of violence: A gunman killed at least 49 people at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, and sent 53 more to the hospital with injuries.
The FBI has since identified the gunman as Omar Mateen, an American-born 29-year-old, who opened fire in the club with an assault rifle and hand gun. He was shot and killed on the scene.
Since news of the incident surfaced, presidential candidates began making their statements, commenting both on the tragic event and its political implications. Below are comments from Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders (some of the statements do not reflect the most current information):
Hillary Clinton: "To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies"
This morning Hillary Clinton called the news "devastating," in English and in Spanish (it was Latin night at the club), while the death toll was still at 20:
Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Desperté con la devastadora noticia de FL. Mientras esperamos más información,mis pensamientos están con los afectados de este horrible acto— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
As officials released more information, and President Barack Obama commented on the tragic incident, Clinton released a statement denouncing the "act of terror" and the "act of hate":
This was an act of terror. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are hard at work, and we will learn more in the hours and days ahead. For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home. It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values.
This was also an act of hate. The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.
Finally, we need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals. This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.
This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country.
Donald Trump: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism"
Donald Trump was quick to share the news of Twitter this morning, calling the incident a "really bad shooting," later extended his thoughts and prayers after the death toll had increased to at least 50.
Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Trump was quick to frame the incident in the context of Islamic extremism, tweeting out appreciation for all his supporters that congratulated him for being "right on radical Islamic terrorism."
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
While Trump called the incident an act of radical Islamic terrorism before any official confirmation, the FBI has now said the shooter pled allegiance to ISIS during the attack.
Later on Sunday, the Trump campaign sent out a statement about the attacks — calling on President Obama to step down (because Obama hadn't mentioned the words "radical Islam" in his remarks), and emphasizing, again, the shooter's immigrant heritage:
Last night, our nation was attacked by a radical Islamic terrorist. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11, and the second of its kind in 6 months. My deepest sympathy and support goes out to the victims, the wounded, and their families.
In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words 'Radical Islam'. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words 'Radical Islam' she should get out of this race for the Presidency.
If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can't afford to be politically correct anymore.
The terrorist, Omar Mir Saddique Mateen, is the son of an immigrant from Afghanistan who openly published his support for the Afghanistani Taliban and even tried to run for President of Afghanistan. According to Pew, 99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia Law.
We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.
Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.
We need to protect all Americans, of all backgrounds and all beliefs, from Radical Islamic Terrorism - which has no place in an open and tolerant society. Radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans. I am going to be a President for all Americans, and I am going to protect and defend all Americans. We are going to make America safe again and great again for everyone.
- Donald J. Trump
Bernie Sanders: "Our thoughts are with the injured and the entire Orlando LGBTQ community"
On Meet the Press Sunday morning, Bernie Sanders called the shooting "unthinkable," and said "we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them."
Later in the day Sanders released a statement reiterating his support for the LGBTQ community:
All Americans are horrified, disgusted and saddened by the horrific atrocity in Orlando.
At this point we do not know whether this was an act of terrorism, a terrible hate crime against gay people or the act of a very sick person, but we extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and loved ones and our thoughts are with the injured and the entire Orlando LGBTQ community.