King County Sheriff John Urquhart reacted to the tragedy in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday after a mass shooting that left at least 50 people dead. The shooting took place at a gay nightclub at about 2 a.m. Eastern time Sunday morning.
Sheriff Urquhart spoke passionately about yet another mass shooting in the United States and his frustration that the LGBTQ community was targeted in this attack. Urquhart said right now law enforcement’s biggest worry is homegrown extremists.
“The FBI has said this for years, and the briefings I’ve gone to they are terrified of this particular situation, a homegrown extremist,” Urquhart said. “Somebody who lives in this country legally, in this case, is a citizen, and they commit an act of terrorism. That’s who we need to be worried about.”
“You hear national politicians talk about Muslims and talk about ISIS, and talk about Syrian terrorists coming over to this country,” Urquhart said. “That’s not going to happen in the United States. It hasn’t happened yet.”
The sheriff said these types of attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The people responsible are using the “black web” and encrypted texts messages that right now are difficult to access. That makes it incredibly difficult to track them.
“America needs to make a decision and our legislators are going to have to make a decision. Are we going to allow the police, with the concurrence of the court system, another branch of government, to be able to use a search warrant and get into these cell phones, these encrypted devices, to find out what’s going on, what contacts are they have, what they are planning? That’s the decision that has to be made,” Urquhart said. “We need new techniques; we need to figure out how we’re going to stop these people before it happens and clearly we were not successful here.”
Urquhart has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community and expressed his thoughts and prayers for everyone affected by Sunday’s tragedy. He’s hopeful everyone in the LGBTQ community and elsewhere speaks up if they hear of any potential wrongdoing.
“My message to them is the same as it would be to everyone else. To be vigilant, if you see something, say something. It’s become almost trite, but it’s absolutely true,” Urquhart said. “Not only from a package standpoint but if you know somebody who is espousing these views, that’s talking, that has ISIS literature. You need to let the police know. You need to let us know upfront.”
“This is just such a shocking tragedy, and it’s so disappointing that it happens anywhere, and it’s so disappointing that it happens now in the United States.”