Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several precautionary steps being taken by state agencies following the shooting in Orlando, Fla. early Sunday morning.
As of Monday morning, police have identified 48 of the 49 victims and authorities are trying to determine the exact nature of the relationship between the shooter — 29-year-old Omar Mateen — and organized Islamic terrorists. Doctors warn the death toll could rise, as many of the hospitalized victims are in critical condition.
Mateen entered the gay nightclub club shortly after 2 a.m. and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd, police say. Mateen was eventually shot and killed by police.
Because of early reports of Mateen’s possible connection to terrorist organizations, Gov. Cuomo took several precautionary steps to heighten security around the state.
He also directed the lights of One World Trade Center’s 408-foot spire to be displayed in the colors of the pride flag in the wake of the attack.
“Early reports indicate this was likely an act of domestic terrorism. While there is no specific intelligence that suggests any link between the attacks that occurred in Orlando with New York, out of an abundance of caution, I have directed additional security measures at key points around the state as a precaution,” Cuomo said. “The safety of New Yorkers and our state’s visitors is our number one priority, and we are remaining vigilant and in close contact with local and federal officials and our partner law enforcement agencies.”
On Monday night at 7:30 p.m., Cuomo will participate in a vigil at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village — an important historic spot in the gay community for its role in the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement — and will be joined by dozens of representatives in local, state and national government. More than 5,000 people are expected to attend.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the injured and their loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers stand in solidarity with the people of Florida, and the LGBT community and I have directed flags at state buildings to be flown at half-staff in the memory of those who were lost in this terrible act of mass murder.”
Cuomo and at least one state Assembly member called for stricter federal gun control laws in the hours after learning about the attack.
Mateen allegedly used a .223 caliber assault weapon and a 9 mm handgun in the attacks. Both were purchased legally in just the last few weeks, police say.
“This is just one more horrific reminder of the need for Congress to pass real and sensible gun safety legislation, just as we did in New York. It is far past time for Washington to act,” Cuomo said.
The state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service’s Watch Center, as a precaution, has increased monitoring of various large public gatherings, including various sporting venues throughout the state. DHSES remains in a state of readiness and prepared to disseminate information to our public safety partners statewide as necessary.
Additionally, The New York State Police and the National Guard have also been in contact with federal officials as well as local law enforcement partners, including the New York City Police Department. At the governor’s direction, as a precaution, the State Police and National Guard have increased surveillance of critical infrastructure including transportation hubs and will be deploying additional resources to large public gatherings.
Port Authority police are on heightened alert at all of the agency’s bridge, tunnel, rail, World Trade Center and other facilities, following the attacks in Orlando. Actions include increased patrols and checks of bags, buses, trucks and trains at agency locations. Travelers are reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to police or other authorities.
In the hours after the attack, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority increased its patrols and surveillance to provide heightened protection across all its agencies. The MTA Police Department has stepped up its uniformed and plainclothes presence in Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal as well as other major stations throughout the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road network. Police canine teams and units with heavy weapons will provide extra protection as well as a noticeable sign of increased security. Railroad customers will also see surge patrols, increased step-on, step-off patrols of trains, and random bag checks at various locations.
“My heart goes out to the friends and families of those lost and injured in the horrific attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Greenwich Village. “This is now the worst mass shooting in America, where mass shootings have become frighteningly common. I ask everyone to reflect on this tragedy, and send your thoughts and prayers to everyone in the Orlando LGBT community.”
Like Cuomo, Glick also called for tougher federal gun control laws.
“In the coming days, we will learn more about the shooter, and perhaps the motivation, though there can be no rational explanation for violence on this scale,” Glick continued. “We must all insist on a change in the way our country accepts widespread ownership of assault weapons. These are military style weapons and there can be no reason for civilian sales of these high impact assault weapons. The endless protection of the most extreme positions of the NRA must come to an end.
“Americans are more at risk from Americans with assault weapons, than we are from outside forces,” Glick continued. “The time is long since passed when the defense of our country must include rational policies limiting the proliferation of deadly weapons.”
Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, the first openly gay man elected to the Assembly, said New Yorkers especially can sympathize with the victims and their families.
“My heart breaks each and every time people suffer from an act of terror-whether at home or abroad. As New Yorkers, we unfortunately understand the pain and grief inflicted all too well,” O’Donnell said. “As a member of the LGBT community these targeted hate crimes feel even more personal. Terrorism is not of any religion or state. It is born of ignorance and hatred. I stand in mourning and solidarity with all those who were impacted by the horrifying attacks in Orlando last night. During this month of pride, let us not be silenced by this dreadful occurrence, but come together in celebration of all we have achieved and recommitted to all that we must continue to do.”
Cuomo said New York stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.
“From Stonewall to marriage equality to protecting transgender individuals to the first-in-the nation executive action to ban conversion therapy, New York has led the way in the fight for LGBT rights,” the governor said. “In this state, we believe that no matter your race, creed, color, gender identity or expression you have the right live your life free from persecution and prejudice.
“This senseless act of terror reminds us that there are those who seek to undermine these very values and the progress we have achieved. We will not let this happen. An attack on one is an attack on all. New York joins the rest of the nation in rejecting this hate, fear and extremism and stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community.”