Attorney General Loretta Lynch Meets With Victims, Police In Orlando

Jun 21, 2016
Originally published on June 21, 2016 5:28 pm
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In Orlando, streets and businesses are reopening in the area around the Pulse Nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people just over a week ago. And Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with survivors and family members there today. She said the Justice Department would do anything it could to help the community heal. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: During her visit, Attorney General Lynch said she recognized the city is trying to recover now from a shattering attack, and she had a specific message for the LGBT community.

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LORETTA LYNCH: We stand with you today as we grieve together. And long after the cameras are gone, we will continue to stand with you as we grow together in commitment, in solidarity and in equality.

CORLEY: As part of that commitment for all of the city, Lynch announced that the Department of Justice would provide a million dollars in emergency funding to cover overtime costs for responders, and emergency counseling would also be available. Meantime, the investigation into the shooting continues as authorities reconstruct the scene.

And Lynch says the department is also considering releasing audio of 911 calls made by victims and others at the club during the shooting which several family members have requested. Lynch says there will also be more scrutiny to see if the FBI could have done anything differently when it closed previous investigations of the shooter, Omar Mateen. She added she's confident that this investigation will uncover what drove Mateen to do what he did.

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LYNCH: And so we do feel that as we continue to build a timeline and a chronology and to build his life, that we will be able to determine this. I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation.

CORLEY: It was clearly, she said, an act of terror and hate. The signs of that attack - the boarded up Pulse Nightclub - is more visible on Orange Avenue. Police have taken down the fencing that surrounded the outer perimeter of the club. Traffic is flowing again, and work crews are filling in potholes around the street. Businesses are reopening as this neighborhood tries to recapture some sense of normalcy.

JONATHON TOOTHMAN: So it's touch and go. I have up until this morning have required police escort, FBI to come to my store.

CORLEY: Jonathan Toothman owns the RadioShack electronics store directly across the street from the nightclub. His is one of about 60 businesses that were closed off by police after the shooting. Toothman says what businesses will be doing now is trying to get back some sense of routine.

TOOTHMAN: But truly, the effect that it's had on me is minor compared to what its affect did on all these people that have lost their life or who are still in the hospital. And the economic impact to them is incredible.

CORLEY: Toothman says like many in the city, he recognizes that Orlando is simply trying to recover, and the residents here are determined to stand together. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Orlando. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.