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On the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting Orlando, several US Senators condemned it as a targeted attack on the LGBTQ community.

5 years ago, we lost 49 people in a deadly, hate-filled shooting at the Pulse nightclub. The LGBTQ+ community was targeted and killed—all because they dared to live their lives.

Senator Tammy Duckworth https://twitter.com/SenDuckworth/status/1403729355805765634

5 years ago we lost 49 beautiful souls at Pulse nightclub. I continue to hold in my heart those who were killed, their loved ones & the survivors of this unspeakable act of hate toward the #LGBTQ+ community.

Senator Cory Booker https://twitter.com/SenBooker/status/1403713834632855557

Today we #RememberPulse. 49 lives lost to senseless gun violence and anti-LGBTQ hate. A tragedy that is still hard to comprehend.

Senator Dick Durbin https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/1403758345471807490

Journalist Greg Greenwald contested the claim that Omar Mateen targeted the LGBTQ community: "Democratic Senators and activist groups promoting a false, conclusively disproven narrative about the Pulse shootings for their own benefits." https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1403774419663831041


Was the Pulse nightclub shooting motivated by LGBT hate, and specifically targeted the LGBTQ community?

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    We pretty explicitly consider motivations of individuals to be off-topic. Empirical evidence of someone's motivation is pretty much impossible to answer.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 14, 2021 at 5:39
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    @Oddthinking I'm not familiar with the documentation you speak of. Motivations certainly have empirical evidence. Otherwise there would be no such thing as a provable-beyond-all-reasonable-doubt hate crimes. Jun 14, 2021 at 10:16
  • FAQ, Justification. We cannot duplicate the role of a jury. If you want to ask if he was found guilty of a hate-crime, go ahead.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 14, 2021 at 15:51
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    @Oddthinking, I am not asking about criminality or even underlying motivation per se, but you knew that. I am asking if Omar Mateen chose his target based on it being part of the LGBT community. Compare to "intentions" in skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/22730/… Jun 14, 2021 at 23:33

1 Answer 1

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Links from NBC News and HuffPost describing the outcome of the trial of Mateen's wife indeed suggest not, or at least that there was no evidence that the attack was targeted.

HuffPost:

As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to Pulse before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub. Even prosecutors acknowledged in their closing statement that Pulse was not his original target; it was the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex. They presented evidence demonstrating that Mateen chose Pulse randomly less than an hour before the attack. It is not clear he even knew it was a gay bar. A security guard recalled Mateen asking where all the women were, apparently in earnest, in the minutes before he began his slaughter.

NBC:

Swift and his team convinced jurors that Mateen had chosen Pulse at random. Doing so required undoing the prevailing narrative that the Pulse shooting was an attack on the LGBTQ community.

The case leaned heavily on forensic cellphone evidence and security camera footage.

On the night of June 11, 2016, Omar Mateen googled and visited Disney Springs, a popular Orlando outdoor shopping and recreation area. Then, just after midnight, he googled “Disney World,” and his cellphone placed him near towers around Epcot, another Disney-owned theme park, according to The Orlando Sentinel. But it wasn’t until he was near Epcot that Mateen googled “downtown Orlando nightclubs,” which delivered Eve Orlando and Pulse as top results. Mateen then drove to Eve, where he stayed for six minutes before driving away. Eve Orlando, in a busy downtown nightclub district, is in an area with heavy police presence, Swift said.

After 1 a.m. on June 12, the night of the attack, Mateen performed one final Google search for “downtown Orlando nightclubs” and began to drive to Pulse. He hesitated, turned back toward Eve, then turned around again and headed back to Pulse. “Finally, around 2 a.m., Mateen fired the first shots in the Pulse nightclub,” a motion filed by the defense read. There was no cellular evidence that he had ever been there before that night.

(Disclaimer: I read both of these stories reasonably quickly. They seem to be fairly straight-up reporting of evidence presented in court by Noor Mateen's lawyers, but it's possible that there are more complications here that I'm not aware of.)

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  • Since when is HuffPost a reputable outlet? It's a tabloid.
    – forest
    Jun 15, 2021 at 1:34
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    OK, revised to comment on the stories themselves rather than the outlets themselves.
    – Ben Bolker
    Jun 15, 2021 at 2:05

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