Jun 13, 2016

By Jane Brown

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People have been gathering in cities across the U.S. and Canada to honour the victims of the Orlando massacre committed by a man who called 9-1-1 from the scene to profess loyalty to an Islamic State terror group leader.

This morning, a media outlet for ISIL hailed the Orlando attack, saying it targeted a gathering of Christians and gays, and called the gunman “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.”

Forty-nine people were killed, 53 others injured in the worst mass shooting in modern American history when a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub early on Sunday morning.

Here in Toronto, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory joined hundreds of others at a candlelight vigil at Barbara Hall Park near Church and Wellesley.

“What we know is that homophobia cannot be fought with Islamophobia,” Wynne told the gathering, “The more we love each other the better off we will be and the better off the world will be, so what happened in Orlando happened to all of us.”

Security is being beefed up at Toronto Pride events and Police Chief Mark Saunders says all of the security detail is being re-evaluated.

It appears the act of terror was a hate crime. The gunman was 29 year old Omar Mateen, who was killed by SWAT team members after the massacre.

Mateen was known to the FBI according to Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper. FBI investigators interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for a suicide bomber. Hopper says those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going.

The gunman’s father recalls that his son recently got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami and says that might be related to the assault.

But Seddique Mateen says he saw his son on Saturday and everything seemed normal.

“I couldn’t believe that was my son because my son got enough education, he’s born in the United States in New York and he finished high school here in Florida, and he got an associate degree in criminal justice,” his father said.

The elder Mateen was born in Afghanistan and has been seen in a YouTube video praising the Taliban.

But another person close to Omar Mateen is painting a different picture about the gunman behind the deadliest terror attack since the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

His ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, says when she lived with him for four months back in 2009, he was a homophobic, physically-abusive and an emotionally-unstable man. Mateen remarried and left behind a wife and a three-year-old.

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