A 45-year-old man walked into his former workplace, a company that makes accessories for motor homes, and allegedly shot five of his former colleagues — including four men and a woman — to death. He then turned the gun on himself and ended his own life.
The shocking incident took place in Orlando, Florida, at a factory named Fiamma Inc. that had fired the alleged assailant, John Robert Neumann Jr., earlier this year in April.
Neumann was former vet, discharged from the Army in 1999, and had previously been accused of battering another employee at work.
At the time of the mass shooting, he was reportedly armed with a handgun and a large hunting knife. However, the authorities said the victims had all sustained gunshot wounds. The suspect allegedly shot most of them in the head, some even more than once.
Since the horror unfolded nearly a week before the anniversary of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting, in which a 29-year-old security guard killed 49 people and wounded 58 others, the initial reports of the bloody carnage sparked fears of terrorism.
Orlando began trending on Twitter, different media outlets reported on the attack as a developing story and people began comparing the incident to the recent London terror attacks where three attackers killed seven people. Some online users even seemed certain the assailant would be just another “neighborhood Muslim extremist.”
Once the details began to emerge and the perpetrator turned out to be a “disgruntled employee,” some started to compare the carnage to the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, where a health department employee named Syed Rizwan Farook, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 others during a Christmas party at the Inland Regional Center.
However, once the reports confirmed the Fiamma Inc. attacker was a white Christian male, the entire episode seemed to lose its novelty for many.
The police also said they did not believe the incident was terrorism-related — which is exactly what happened in San Bernardino. In both cases, the authorities found no evidence of any terrorist-related activity. Yet, Farook and Malik were dubbed “homegrown violent extremists,” while Neumann was repeatedly referred to as a “disgruntled employee” by law enforcement officials. Despite the similarities between the two tragedies, only one had the privilege to grace the airwaves for days on end, while the other died down in the matter of hours — simply because the perpetrator wasn’t a Muslim.
As soon as Neumann’s identity was released, the word Orlando soon stopped trending and most news channels went back to their scheduled programming, whereas some media outlets decided to publish the details of the assailant’s life to humanize him. For instance, the Orlando Sentinel cited a neighbor who described Neumann as a secretive man who “liked sports, going to Orlando City Soccer games and out to Daytona Beach for NASCAR races.”
Innocent people died in both instances, so why isn’t there enough outrage over the Orlando shooting as well?
Why do the media decide if an attacker was a “radical Islamist,” a “thug” or a “lone wolf battling mental issues” based on the color of their skin?
Scant media coverage of the Orlando mass shooting by a non-Muslim today again demonstrates it doesn't matter how you die, but who kills you.— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) June 5, 2017
About Orlando shooting.— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) June 5, 2017
- If shooter is Muslim, world outrage.
- If shooter is Black, US outrage.
- If shooter is White, no outrage at all.
Mass shooting in Orlando, no outrage or hysteria. That's right! You guessed the perpetrator— Notwithherx (@notwithherx) June 5, 2017
If the shooter is muslim, the world will explode— Gau?? (@ConteBeBothered) June 5, 2017
if he is black, US is triggered
if he is white, he's a deranged gentleman #orlando
Orlando isn't trending anymore. 6 dead, 1 less than in London. Unless the killer is Muslim, this country doesn't care about people's lives.— WhatWeHad (@IrisRimon) June 5, 2017
Crazy how the Orlando TT just fell off the very minute the culprit was confirm not black, brown or Muslim.— Tundé Lahren (@ThatsSoTunde) June 5, 2017
What’s even more interesting is the government’s response — or the lack thereof.
President Donald Trump was quick to condemn the hotel shooting in Manila, Philippines, as an act of terrorism — even though it wasn’t one. It is also important to note it took the president a few hours to criticize the incident whereas it took him over three days to even react to the Portland train stabbing, where a white supremacist killed two heroes and injured other for standing up to hate and bigotry.
Following the bloody London attacks, Trump also launched a Twitter tirade against Mayor Sadiq Khan, ridiculing him by saying he was playing down the threat of terrorism.
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
Is he now going to disparage the mayor of Orlando as well?
Trump deciding whether it's okay to ignore the Orlando shooting. pic.twitter.com/c1QZfjRqwg— Dab Aggin (@DabAggin) June 5, 2017
As of writing this, Trump has not posted anything about the recent mass shooting. Ironically, his last tweet at the moment, which he sent out after the rampage, touted his controversial Muslim ban.
That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
The Orlando incident also draws attention to the plight of gun violence in the country.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the recent shooting represents 114th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.
Gun control is a serious issue that requires immediate attention, but the NRA-backed Trump administration continues to oppose such measures.
To put things into perspective, he tweeted this after the London Bridge attacks:
Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
Neumann had both a knife and gun — guess which one he chose?
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters