In a phone interview with NBC News, shooter Omar Mateen's father, Mir Seddique, claimed the shooting had "nothing to do with religion." According to Seddique, his son became angry recently when he and his family saw two men kissing. Seddique went on to say, "We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country."
The FBI disputes Mr. Seddique's story, saying Mateen was investigated for his terrorist sympathies in the past. ISIS has since taken credit for the attack, praising Mateen as one of its "soldiers."
President Obama spoke to the nation Sunday afternoon, re-emphasizing U.S. resolve in combatting terrorism and gun violence:
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominees of their respective parties, reacted early on:
Desperté con la devastadora noticia de FL. Mientras esperamos más información,mis pensamientos están con los afectados de este horrible acto
"I join Americans in praying for the victims of the attack in Orlando, their families and the first responders who did everything they could to save lives.
"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."
Trump's own later full statement bluntly called for President Obama's resignation:
“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.”
Celebrities raised concerns about hate fueling hate and expressed disbelief at the violence:
I'm truly at a loss for words. To everyone in Orlando affected by this massacre, my thoughts, love, & prayers are with u ❤️💛💚💙💜