US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on June 19 that the FBI will release a partial transcript of the conversations between the gunman within the Pulse gay nightclub and Orlando police negotiators.
Meanwhile, Orlando residents paused throughout the day at a bar in the early morning hours, at morning church services and at an evening candlelight vigil in the heart of downtown to remember the victims of the worst mass shooting in modern US history, exactly a week later.
“We are hurting. We are exhausted, confused, and there is so much grief,” said Larry Watchorn, a ministerial intern, during a sermon at Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando, whose congregants are predominantly gay. “We come to have our tears wiped away and our strength renewed.”
Lynch said in interviews on June 19 on several news shows that the FBI would release a partial, printed transcript of the conversations between gunman Omar Mateen from within the Pulse nightclub and Orlando police negotiators. Armed with a semi-automatic weapon, Mateen went on a bloody rampage at the club June 12 that left 49 people dead and 53 others seriously hurt. Mateen died in a hail of police gunfire after police stormed the venue.
Lynch told ABC’s “This Week” that the top goal while intensifying pressure on ISIL the extremist group thought to have inspired Mateen is to build a complete profile of him in order to help prevent another massacre like Orlando.
“As you can see from this investigation, we are going back and learning everything we can about this killer, about his contacts, people who may have known him or seen him. And we’re trying to build that profile so that we can move forward,” Lynch said.
Lynch said she would be traveling to Orlando on June 21 to meet with investigators.
Investigators are still interviewing witnesses, and looking to learn more about Mateen and others who knew him well, including members of his mosque.
A lawyer for the Council of American-Islamic Relations said that the FBI interviewed a man who worshipped at the same mosque as Mateen. Omar Saleh said he sat in on the Friday interview at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, the same mosque that Mateen attended near his home. Saleh said the interview lasted about 30 minutes.
Speaking to CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Lynch said that a key goal of the investigation was to determine why Mateen targeted the gay community. The victims were predominantly gay and Hispanic since it was “Latin night” at Pulse.
At the Parliament House, a gay club and resort near downtown Orlando, the music stopped as patrons paused for a moment of silence at 2 am, the time Mateen started shooting at Pulse just a few miles away.
Megan Currie, a Joy Metropolitan Community Church member, said during a Sunday morning sermon that Mateen’s attack was an effort to put fear in the gay community.
“This was a hate crime and this happened because someone was homophobic,” Currie said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott described the attack as “devastating” while praying at the First Baptist Church of Orlando. He said the gunman targeted “two very vulnerable populations.”
“But here is the positive out of it … people have come together,” Scott said. “There are so many people who have done so many wonderful acts.”
Around the city, people left balloons, flowers, pictures and posters at a makeshift memorial in front of the city’s new performing arts center and at Orlando Regional Medical Center where 49 white crosses were emblazoned with red hearts and the names of the victims.
A rainbow appeared over Lake Eola Park Sunday evening as tens of thousands of people turned out for an evening vigil to honor the victims of the shooting. The park was filled with people holding white flowers, American flags and candles.
One of those people attending, Traci Hines-McKenzie, says the timing of the rainbow was perfect.
The crosses were built by a Chicago carpenter with a history of constructing crosses for victims of mass shootings. Greg Zanis drove from Illinois to Orlando last week and installed the crosses at the medical center, where many of the 53 shooting victims who survived were taken for treatment.
He said on June 19 that the crosses are a message for people of all faiths: “Quit judging and start loving.”