Orlando Pulse Nightclub Massacre (June 12, 2016)

On this day in 2016, an ISIS-inspired terrorist opened fire in an Orlando, Florida, gay bar in June 2016 killing 49 and wounding 53.

In a country far too used to mass shootings, the deadliest single one by a terrorist occurred in a Florida gay club.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – We’ve all had a dream in which we are in a place, feeling threatened, and can’t get away. Maybe we try to run but we find that our feet appear to be in quicksand. Maybe the person or thing chasing us seems to always get closer. Whatever the scenario, we feel helpless.

Thankfully, these are only dreams, not real life. Most probably, very few of us find ourselves in an actual situation of this nature. Life is rarely a Stephen King movie (far too many of which I have watched).

Terrorism is of course a real world fear. People die or are seriously wounded and lives are shattered. I have never been in a terrorist attack so I cannot imagine what it is like to witness such an event or, God forbid, have to flee from one.

Allegiance to Abu Bakr Baghdadi

Most attacks, however, are over in a second. An IED is exploded at the side of a road, blowing up vehicles. A suicide bomber detonates his/her device killing and maiming people in a crowded everyday venue (a market, a bus stop, a concert).

Some unfold over a longer period of time. Attacks of this nature obviously require that the terrorists remain alive long enough to keep killing (it is really hard to target someone AFTER your body is in a gazillion pieces thanks to an explosive belt). It is these that would raise the spectre of innocent civilians seeking to run away.

Today’s featured terrorist attack is an example of this kind of act. On June 12 four years ago Omar Mateen entered a gay bar called Pulse in Orlando, Florida, with several firearms and shot randomly. In the end he had killed 49 patrons and wounded a further 53 before he too was killed by police. He had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State (ISIS), and referred to the Boston Marathon bombers, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who had struck in April 2013.

On this day in 2016, an ISIS-inspired terrorist opened fire in an Orlando, Florida, gay bar in June 2016 killing 49 and wounding 53.

Mateen’s wife was also tried on charges she aided and abetted her husband but was acquitted in 2018. The attack was the single largest mass shooting in the US, a country which witnesses a disproportionate number of these crimes, before the 2017 shootings in Las Vegas.

I cannot imagine the terror of those at Pulse as they heard gunshots. Did they know it was gunfire and not just loud music? Did they know where to run to? Was there panic and a stampede? There were several lawsuits brought by survivors against an array of authorities whom they felt had dropped the ball.

As for me I am sure I will have the odd bad dream where I feel trapped. I just hope it never materialises in real life.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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