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Apopka Responds to Orlando Shooting



Apopka comes together in prayers for the victims

The Apopka community continued its support for the victims of The Pulse Nightclub shootings this afternoon with a prayer vigil held at Kit Land Nelson Park in Apopka. Carmen Ruiz-Ore of the Facebook Group "I Love Apopka" quickly organized the event, and an estimated crowd of 75 attended.

"I've always know that when things are tough, God is the only one that can fix it," said Ruiz-Ore. "I knew this morning that with the Orlando shooting being so close that people in our community would be effected. With the help of Jennifer and AJ Cardoza, Lorena Potter, Jerry Mynard, Debra White and our local spiritual and elected officials we were able to gather."

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, County Commissioner Bryan Nelson, and City Commissioners Doug Bankson, Kyle Becker and Billie Dean spoke at the event. Commissioner Diane Velazquez also attended. Apopka Christian Ministerial Alliance President Hezekiah Bradford prayed for the victims, and Isadora Dean (a candidate for The Orange County School Board District 7) led the group in The Lord's Prayer. Use this link for more details and photos.

Undated photo taken from a social media account of Omar Mateen, who Orlando Police have identified as the suspect in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Gunman identified as Omar Mateen; referenced ISIS in 911 call

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen, has been identified as the deceased gunman, officials said Sunday. According to the FBI, Mateen pledged his support for ISIS and invoked the names of the Boston marathon bombers in 911 calls made amid his attack on the gay nightclub.

Direct links have not yet been established between Mateen and ISIS, but the terror group claimed responsibility for the shooting through a statement via its Amaq news agency.

Mateen, 29, was born in New York. His parents are from Afghanistan. The family later moved to Florida, according to published reports and he has recently lived in Fort Pierce, Fla., in St. Lucie County, which is roughly 123 miles south of Orlando.

Mir Seddique, the suspected shooter’s father, told NBC News that the mass shooting had “nothing to do with religion.” He also said Mateen got angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple of months ago and that he thinks that may have been a trigger in the shooting.

“We are apologizing for the whole incident,” he told NBC News. “We weren’t aware of any action he taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”


One Blood Donation Center overwhelmed by donors

OneBlood, a blood donation center with a location in Apopka, is so overwhelmed with donors that it has asked people to stop coming today.

“I’ve been here 13 years and never seen a response like this,” Pat Michaels, a spokesman for OneBlood. “The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it’s a little too much, too soon.”

The blood center said on Facebook that there had been a “tremendous response.”

“We are asking donors to donate over the next several days to help replenish the blood supply,” it said.

Use this link to make an appointment to donate blood tomorrow.


Facebook Group "I Love Apopka" hosting Prayer Vigil

The Facebook site "I Love Apopka" is hosting a prayer vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando shooting. The vigil will be held at Kit Land Nelson Park at 5pm.

The site posted this statement:

"Join us in prayer! We need spiritual and community leaders to help us lead prayer!"


Mayor Kilsheimer: "I pray that Apopka can be a part of the healing"

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer posted this statement on Facebook:

To my fellow Apopka residents:

This senseless tragedy so close to home strikes us hard. My prayer is that the families and friends of the victims find peace and comfort in the assurance that God's loving arms surround us, even in our darkest hours. Now, it is time for us to lift up in prayer those who are injured and are in need of healing; those who lost loved ones and those who were first responders and must deal with this evil face-to-face. I pray that -- in whatever way we can -- that Apopka can be part of the healing our community needs now.


President Obama: "Orlando Shooting an Act of Terror"

President Obama today described as as "an act of terror" the mass shooting in Orlando overnight, which left at least 50 people dead.

“We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city,” Obama said at the White House. “This could have been any one of our cities.”

The White House said that the president was briefed early Sunday by his Homeland Security and Counter terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco on the attack, and asked for regular updates as the FBI works with the Orlando police.

The shooting at the Pulse Orlando gay nightclub is the worst ever mass shooting on American soil, Sandy Hook previously held the highest death toll of any domestic shooting during Obama’s presidency.

The president has used past statements to rail against Congress' inaction on his push for gun control legislation, which he has called one of the greatest disappointments of his presidency.

Just last Thursday at an LGBT pride event at the White House, Obama remarked on the “incredible ... violence” members of the LGBT community face around the world.

"We’ve got work to do when LGBT people around the world still face incredible isolation and poverty and persecution and violence, and even death," Obama said. "We have work to make sure that every single child, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they look like or how they live, feels welcomed and valued and loved.”

Multiple news outlets contributed to this report.

Lines Forming at Apopka Blood Bank

In response to the mass shooting today in Orlando, Apopka is forming lines around the One Blood Donation Center in Apopka. The center is typically open until 3pm on Sunday, and is located at 131 North Park Avenue. Officials in Orlando have requested blood donations, but stress not to go to the hospitals, but rather to blood banks like OneBlood in Apopka.

On its Facebook Page, OneBlood released this statement: A tremendous response by blood donors in light of the tragic mass shooting in Orlando. We are asking donors to donate over the next several days to help replenish the blood supply. We are asking people please make an appointment online or call 1.888.9.DONATE (1.888.936.6283). Thank you!

Updating Breaking News:

A gunman killed 50 people at a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday and wounded 53 others before being killed by police in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The shooter was identified as Omar S. Mateen, a Florida resident who a senior FBI official said might have had leanings toward Islamic State militants. Officials called the rampage a "terrorism incident," but cautioned that the suspected Islamist connection required further investigation.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the attack was the deadliest single U.S. shooting incident, eclipsing the 32 people killed in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech university.

"Today we're dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable," Dyer said, more than doubling an earlier estimate that about 20 bodies were found in the Pulse nightclub.

A police officer working as a security guard inside the club, which has operated in downtown Orlando since 2004, exchanged fire with the suspect at about 2 a.m. EDT, police officials said.

A hostage situation quickly developed, and three hours later SWAT team officers used armored cars to storm the club before shooting dead the gunman. It was unclear when the gunman killed the victims.

One officer was injured after he was hit in his helmet while exchanging fire with the gunman, police said.

Asked if the FBI suspected the gunman might have had inclinations toward militant Islam, including a possible sympathy for Islamic State, Ronald Hopper, an assistant FBI agent in charge, told reporters: "We do have suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology. But right now we can't say definitively."

The FBI said it was still trying to pin down whether the mass shooting was a hate crime against gays or a terrorist act.

President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to provide any assistance needed to Florida police investigating the shooting, the White House said in a statement.

The attacker was carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. He was also carrying an unidentified "device", Orlando Police Chief John Mina said earlier.

Video footage showed police officers and civilians carrying some injured people away from the club and bending over others on the ground. Dozens of police cruisers, ambulances and other emergency vehicles could be seen in the area.

It was the second deadly shooting at an Orlando night spot in as many nights. Late Friday, a man thought to be a deranged fan fatally shot singer Christina Grimmie, a former contestant on "The Voice", as she was signing autographs after a concert.

Multiple news outlets contributed to this report.


Apopka responds, One Blood Donation Center, Orlando Shooting


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