To yet another tragic act of violence, this time the worst shooting in America’s history, which took place early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle and handgun, Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 more during an hours-long spree. The FBI and other federal agencies reported that Mateen, an American born to Afghan immigrants, pledged allegiance to the Syrian terrorist organization the Islamic State in a phone call made during his mass shooting, stoking fears of yet another homegrown terrorist. But additional stories coming out later in the week painted a more complex story, as Mateen may have been living a secret gay life. He was apparently regularly seen at the Pulse nightclub prior to the shooting and may have solicited other men on dating apps. Despite the increasingly murky backstory, we grieve the victims, many of whom were killed while hiding in fear of their lives. The story is ugly and we hope that our leaders can find ways to prevent such wholesale carnage from ever occurring again.
To the second horrific story to come out of Orlando this week: the killing of a 2-year-old boy at a Disney World resort by an alligator. Playing by the edge of a lake in the center of the resort, the boy was bitten by a large alligator and pulled into the water — a common tactic for the predator to attack prey. The boy’s father fought in vain to free his son, but ultimately the creature pulled the child into deeper water. A day later, authorities were able to locate the boy’s body after the alligator apparently let go of him. Much like a similar incident at the Cincinnati Zoo earlier this year, internet critics took the boy’s parents to task for the tragedy. However, we question how much the parents, who were vacationing from Nebraska where alligators are not found, could have known about the predators lurking in the waters. Signs in the area only read “No swimming,” a common discouragement due to a lack of lifeguards, not a notice about the presence of large predators. We grieve for the victim’s family in this terrible incident.