18/06/2016 Reporters - Short Edition


18/06/2016

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Welcome to this special edition of Reporters.

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I'm Laura Bicker in Orlando, Florida, as America comes

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to terms with its worst mass shooting in recent history.

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We'll have a range of reports from our correspondents

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on the aftermath of this attack, including what it might mean

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for the nation's attitudes towards human rights and gun laws.

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Coming up:

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GUNFIRE

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Oh my God, they're all shooting back and forth.

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The moment a party turned into an atrocity.

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Images shot by one of the victims of the United States' worst

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terror attack since 9/11.

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The US-born gunman who pledged allegiance to IS.

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President Obama calls it an attack on all Americans.

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And, love will prevail.

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A video message from the gay community in Orlando

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to the rest of the world.

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Do not let fear take away your life.

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Educate.

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Be involved.

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Love will always win.

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49 dead, 53 injured.

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The worst mass shooting in America's history unfolded in three hours

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of hell at the Pulse nightclub here in Orlando, Florida.

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President Obama described the attack at a gay nightclub as

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an attack on all Americans.

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The gunman, Omar Mateen, dialled 911 from the bathroom

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of the club during the shootings to pledge allegiance

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to the so-called Islamic State group.

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But it later emerged that he may have visited the club

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several times before.

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Gabriel Gatehouse has this report on how the tragedy unfolded.

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And I should warn you,

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there may be some disturbing images in his report.

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MUSIC

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It's Latino night at Pulse, a buzzing gay nightclub

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in downtown Orlando.

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By closing time, the dance floor is nearly full.

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At 2:02am, Omar Mateen goes inside and starts

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shooting into the crowd.

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An off-duty police officer, working at the nightclub,

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exchanges fire with the gunman.

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Eddie Justice texts his mother, Mina, from inside

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a bathroom in the club.

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"Mummy, I love you." In club, they're shooting."

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At 2:09am, the club posts on its Facebook page,

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"Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running".

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Josean Garcia, a former DJ at the club, is out with a group

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of nine friends, including Amanda and Mercedes.

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We heard the gunshots,

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and once we noticed it was real, everybody ducked to the floor.

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It was right next to me.

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I had blood all over my arms. And it was actually from him.

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And the shooting just continued, it just continued.

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It just didn't stop.

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And as soon as it stopped and I kind of heard him like reloading,

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I got up and ran to one of the back doors.

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Amanda records a final video on Snapchat.

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GUNFIRE

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She and her best friend Mercedes are later confirmed dead.

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Now Omar Mateen, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun,

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begins to take hostages.

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He calls 911, pledging allegiance to Islamic State,

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and makes reference to the Boston Marathon bombs.

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2:39am - still inside the bathroom,

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Eddie Justice sends another message to his mother.

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"He's coming, I'm going to die."

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He too has since been confirmed as one of the dead.

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At 5:05am, police and SWAT team members decide to move in.

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They force their way into the club with explosives and a battering ram.

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11 officers exchange gunfire with the shooter.

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30 hostages are rescued.

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5:48am - Orlando Police tweet,

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"We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation."

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At 5:53am, police confirm the shooter,

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Omar Mateen, is dead.

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7am - as the authorities begin to search for answers,

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investigators inside the club hear victims' mobile phones

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ringing as family members, desperate for news,

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try to contact them.

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Police say suspicious devices were found

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on the gunman and in his car.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent In Charge,

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Danny Banks, calls the shooting "an act of terrorism."

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Any time that we have potentially dozens of victims in any

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of our communities, then I think we can qualify that

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as terrorist activity.

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At 10:30am, law enforcement officials confirmed that 50 people,

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including the shooter, are dead,

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and 53 others are injured.

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As America mourns, Orlando adds its name to an ever-growing list.

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San Bernardino, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood,

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Virginia Tech, Columbine, and many more.

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But the murder unleashed at the Pulse nightclub sets itself

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apart in scale and in context.

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Whilst families and friends of those killed try to come to terms

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with their personal loss, the deadliest shooting in this

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country's modern history has set off an explosive charge right along

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America's most divisive political fault lines.

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The attack at the Pulse nightclub here in Orlando was clearly

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an act of terrorism.

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But it was also a hate crime, perpetrated against Florida's gay

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community.

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Clive Myrie has been speaking to two Florida residents

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about their responses to the tragedy.

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They are a staple of suburban America - the stars and stripes.

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Shorthand for certain values, a lover of country.

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In Orlando this week, you'll also see this...

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And this...

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And they symbolise a love of country, too.

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Billy Wilks has lived here for 28 years, and is proud to be gay.

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I had an American flag out, but I changed it and put

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that up the minute I heard about it.

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Why? It just made me feel good.

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It made me feel like I was paying respect to those that did

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lose their lives.

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It's in this painful moment that those who are LGBT can reflect

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on how far they've come.

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The killer, Omar Mateen, brought carnage here

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because he hated society's embrace of the community.

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But some are now questioning God's acceptance.

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Reverend Terri Steed Pierce has been out for nearly 30 years.

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I will continue to tell those people who come and question that

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God is here with us, and wants better for us.

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The killer tried to do that, you think, he tried to force

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you back into the closet?

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He was trying to force us back into a closet

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that was never meant for us.

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And we will stand tall and we will stand proud.

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We can't be afraid.

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As a city mourns, President Obama says the attack on the gay nightclub

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was an attack on all Americans.

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The outpouring of horror and grief nationwide is testament to that.

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What is the one piece of advice the LGBT community has for young

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viewers around the world who may have watched this tragedy unfold?

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We compiled this video message from them to people,

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young and old, in America and beyond, about facing adversity.

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Dear LGBT youth...

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You may have seen the tragedy that occurred here in Orlando...

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But we wanted to say...

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Don't be scared.

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Who you are is important for the future.

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I love you.

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Do not let fear take away your light.

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Educate. Be involved.

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Love will always win.

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Don't let a man, with or without a gun, stop you ever

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from being fierce.

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I must not fear.

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Fear is the mind killer.

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Don't let the act of hate define who you are and who we are.

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We are one, and love will always win.

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Be strong, be proud, and most importantly, be you.

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Never deny who you are.

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You're made of star stuff.

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Love is love.

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No one can take away who you truly are.

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Have faith in yourself and have faith in love.

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Love is a powerful thing.

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And at the end of the day, love will always prevail.

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Love will always prevail.

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That is a poignant message from the LGBT

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community here in Florida.

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Well, that's it for this special edition of Reporters.

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We will leave you with some images of Orlando, and around the world,

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as America mourns its worst mass shooting in recent US history.

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From me, Laura Bicker, and the team here in Orlando, Florida, goodbye.

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# O say can you see

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# By the dawn's early light

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# What so proudly we hailed

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# At the twilight's last gleaming

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# Through the perilous fight

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# O'er the ramparts we watched

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# Were so gallantly streaming

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# Whose broad stripes and bright stars

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# Through the perilous fight

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# O'er the ramparts we watched

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# Were so gallantly streaming... #

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