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Religious Tolerance logo

Religiously-inspired violence.
2016-JUN: The Orlando, FL mass
murder at The Pulse LGBT nightclub:

Part 7 of seven parts

Two local hospitals will not bill victims.
Arson attack on a Florida mosque.
Shooter's wife cleared in court.

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This topic is continued here from Part 6.

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2016-AUG-25: Orlando hospitals will not charge victims of the mass shooting:

According to reporter Abe Aboraya of NPR radio station WMFE, Orlando Health will not charge the 44 victims of the shooting that were treated at their Orlando Regional Medical Center. He said:

"Instead, the hospital will look at federal and state funds, victims' funds like the One Orlando fund, and private funds raised for victims. The hospital will bill insurance if a patient has it, but it will not go after a patient's copays The same goes for the nine patients who came to the hospital and died."

David Strong, the CEO of Orlando Health issued a statement saying that the shooting was a:

"... horrendous tragedy. During this very trying time, many organizations, individuals, and charities have reached out to Orlando Health to show their support. This is simply our way of paying that kindness forward."

Another local hospital, Florida Hospital, is also waiving charges for the twelve victims it treated. Aboraya said:

"But the hospital has gone a step further, saying it will not bill insurance either, and any continuing care patients need will also be free of charge."

Daryl Tol, CEO of Florida Hospital said:

"We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando."

Florida is one of the states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion that was an integral part of the Affordable Care Act. Since many of the victims were young, the rate of uninsured victims is probably high. 1

Unfortunately, there have been countless other victims of shootings in Orlando, in the rest of Florida, and the rest of the U.S. that were before, at the same or, after but unrelated to the tragedy at The Pulse nightclub. Many of them are impoverished by medical charges. As of 2009, In 58 other countries across the world, from Andorra to Venezuela, citizens are provided with universal health care. But the U.S. is not one of these. 2

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2016-AUG: Speculation about whether LGBT rights will influence the NOV election:

Stephanie Murphy (D), 37, ran for Congress in a district that contains most of Orlando. She visited The Pulse nightclub in Orlando. LGBT rights is one of the issues on which she is campaiging. Her policies are very different from her Republican opponent’s, which have historically been heavily opposed to equality. Some Democrats feel that this could influence the vote significantly in her favor.

She commented:

"This is a very winnable race. I think people will see that as a defining moment and say: ‘No more. My vote is going to be for human rights’." 6

She defeated the incumbent candidate Rep. John Micawon (R), in the 2016-NOV federal elections for the 7th District of Florida in the United States House of Representatives. She became the first Vietnamese-American women ever elected to Congress.

There remains little clarity on Mateen's precise motivation for shooting patrons of The Pulse, but anti-LGBT, and/or anti-American hatred were certainly involved.

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2016-SEP-12: Apparent arson attack on the shooter's mosque:

An unidentified male set fire to the Fort Pierce Islamic Center. This is the mosque that Omar Mateen attended in Fort Pierce, FL. It happened just after midnight on the day after the 15th anniversary of the 911 attacks on New York, and Washington. It also ocurred on the beginning of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. 3

 4

Wilfredo Ruiz, communications director for the Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, (CAIR) said:

"To firebomb a place barely an hour after parishioners are leaving a place is clearly meant to terrorize. This is a political hate message being sent. That's how the community feels. This small community is being targeted."

Georgia Parsons, 66, lives across the street from the mosque. Since the mass shooting in orlando, she has heard people driving past the mosque, yelling out threats She said:

"America was founded on religious freedom. Those people [at the Islamic Center] haven't done anything wrong. Just because that one crazy guy went to church there?" I just think it's sad that you have to fight hate with hate. It's ridiculous."

Hava L. Holzhauer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League

"While the investigation into this incident is still underway, the congregation should know that it is not alone. Whenever a house of worship is desecrated, it results in a ripple effect of fear throughout the community." 3

Christopher Mele, writing for the New York Times, said:

"Officials of the St. Lucie County sheriff’s office said that Joseph M. Schreiber, 32, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested around 5 p.m. Wednesday as he was walking in Fort Pierce.

Mr. Schreiber had 'multiple anti-Islamic posts and comments' on his Facebook page, said Maj. David Thompson, the director of law enforcement at the sheriff’s office. Mr. Schreiber also wrote about the Sept. 11 attacks, but officials did not elaborate further on a possible motive for the fire. ..."

"Mr. Schreiber faces a charge of second-degree arson but a hate crime designation will raise the charge to first-degree arson, Major Thompson said.

The authorities did not directly address whether others were involved in the arson, saying only that the investigation was still in its early stages." 5

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2018-MAR-31: The shooters widow was found not guilty of criminal activity associated with the Orlando shooting:

In 2017-JAN, Noor Salman, the widow of the shooter in Orlando's Pulse nightclub's mass murder, was charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors alleged that she was aware of her husband's plans in advance, and lied to the FBI during the subsequent investigation. Jurors deliberated from Wednesday afternoon to Friday morning, before returning an innocent verdict. Defense attorney Charles Swift said the prosecution failed to deliver on its promises to the jury. He said:

"The more we learned, the better Noor Salman looked. This jury will stand in my mind as remarkable. -- They were pillars of this community. We knew their backgrounds. They were true judges in this case."

Assistant US Attorney Sara Sweeney, said that she was disappointed at the verdict, but respected it. She thanked the jurors for their "hard work" and service. She issued a statement saying:

"This verdict cannot and will not divide us. The survivors, families, and first responders as well as the community of Orlando and everyone around the world must now focus on the work ahead of us. We will always carry the pain of what happened at Pulse, and we will never forget those who were taken." 7

Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, issued a statement saying:

"We can never bring back the 49 innocent victims whose lives were taken ... or erase the pain that the horrific act brought to so many, but we remain focused on helping the victims and family members continue the healing process."

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he shared the disappointment of the victims' families at the jury's verdict. He issued a statement saying:

"This has been an emotional event for our community, and many feel that justice has not prevailed. However, the system of justice has spoken, and we should look to the continued healing for the families and our entire community so that this event will not define us." 7

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Camila Domonoske, "Orlando Hospitals Say They Won't Bill Victims Of Pulse Nightclub Shooting," The Two Way at NPR, 2016-AUG-25, at: http://www.npr.org/
  2. A world map showing which countries have universal health care can be seen at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. Mike Clary & Adam Sacasa "Arsonist being sought after fire at Fort Pierce mosque where Pulse nightclub killer prayed, investigators say," Sun Sentinel, 2016-SEP-12, at: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
  4. Lindsey Beaver, "Fire at Orlando gunman’s mosque was ‘set intentionally,’ authorities say," The Washington Post, 2016-SEP-12, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  5. Christopher Mele, "Arrest Made in Arson at Mosque That Orlando Nightclub Gunman Attended," New York Times, 2016-SEP-14, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  6. Frank Bruni, "The Big Gay Sway," New York Times, 2016-SEP-03, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  7. Eric Levenson et al., "Pulse gunman's widow found not guilty," CNN 2018-MAR-31, at: https://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2016 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-SEP-11
Latest update: 2018-MAR-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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