Obama to visit Orlando this Thursday
President Obama's various responses to the mass shootings in the United States that have happened during his presidency. USA TODAY
President Barack Obama will visit Orlando this Thursday after the city fell victim to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on Sunday.
"On Thursday, the President will travel to Orlando, Florida, to pay his respects to victims' families, and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery. We will have more information on the President's trip in the coming days," said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, in an email.
Orlando lost 50 lives in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12; 49 of which were victims, one of whom was shooter Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Port St. Lucie native. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer described the massacre as "the most difficult day in the history of Orlando."
"First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed," Obama said. "Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, but I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in this country. And we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected."
President Obama said that while a lot of reporting has been done on the topic of the shooting at Pulse nightclub, it's important to remember that the investigation is still in its preliminary stages.
"The one thing that we can say is that this is being treated as a terrorist investigation," he said. "It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet. All those materials are currently being searched, exploited so we will have a better sense of the pathway that the killer took in making the decision to launch this attack."
Obama did verify that Mateen had pledged allegiance to ISIL before the shooting but that there has been no evidence suggesting Mateen had been directly involved with ISIL. Mateen's ability to legally acquire two weapons in one week after having been investigated by the FBI twice for potential terrorist ties has agitated proponents for stricter gun control laws.
"This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater or in a nightclub," he said.
This story was originally published on June 13, 2016.
The USA TODAY network contributed to this report.