President Obama meets with families of Pulse victims, leaves flowers at memorial
WASHINGTON (WOFL FOX 35) - President Barack Obama said it's going to take more than the military to prevent terrorist attacks like the ones that have occurred most recently in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando. Obama spoke after meeting with families of those shot and killed early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Obama said the attacks were not conducted by sophisticated cells, but by deranged individuals. And while the motivation may have been different than what led to attacks in communities like Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, the instruments of death were similar.
He said those killed and injured were gunned down by a single individual with a powerful weapon. Earlier in the day, White House spokesman Eric Schultz reiterated the administration's support for legislation that would ban "assault weapons."
President Obama landed in Orlando just before 1 p.m. aboard Air Force One Thursday afternoon. Upon exiting the plane, he was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Greeting the president at the base of the steps were Vice President Joe Biden, Florida Governor Rick Scott, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
The politicians then all gathered inside the presidential state limo, nicknamed "The Beast", and drove behind a motorcade to the Amway Center in Downtown Orlando, where President Obama met privately with loved ones of those who were killed Sunday, including many young people in their 20s and 30s. He says the families' grief is "beyond description." Obama was joined by Vice President Biden for this meeting.
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After meeting with the families, Obama and Biden went to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where they placed bouquets of 49 white roses --- one for each of the people who died in the attack --- at a makeshift memorial there.
After several moments of silence, Obama moved to a podium and spoke to reporters, praising the first responders and medical personnel who responded to the attack.
The president called for unity across party lines "to stop killers who want to terrorize us." He vowed to be "relentless" against terrorist groups like ISIL and al-Qaida.
"We are going to destroy them," he said. "We are going to disrupt their networks and their financing and the flow of fighters in and out of war theaters. We're going to disrupt their propaganda that poisons so many minds around the world."