EDM Tuesday Briefing: Orlando Shooting, Pre-Disaster Mitigation, Terror Attack in France
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 14, 2016: The FBI says that Orlando shooting suspect Omar Mateen was on a terror watch list in 2013 but was taken off in 2014, Florida requests a federal emergency declaration to deal with the mass shooting, a new bill looks to slash FEMA's pre-disaster mitigation funds, a man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State stabs a French policeman to death, and investigators continue searching for EgyptAir Flight 804's missing black boxes.
- FBI Director James Comey said that Orlando shooting suspect Omar Mateen was on a watch list in 2013 but then taken off the watch list in 2014 after an investigation closed. Authorities say that Mateen appears to have been a homegrown extremist who may have been radicalized via the Internet. Comey said the FBI is looking into the possibility that Mateen scouted Disney World as a potential target earlier this year.
- In an unprecedented move, Florida Governor Rick Scott requested a federal emergency declaration following the mass shooting at the gay club in Orlando. Scott also activated the Florida Disaster Fund in the aftermath of Sunday's terror attack. The incident, which is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, is now reigniting gun control debates in Congress, and there is talk of tightening federal gun laws.
- A bill approved by a House Appropriations Committee panel last week looks to cut the Federal Emergency Management Agency's funding for its pre-disaster mitigation grant program approximately in half. Representative Nita Lowey from New York criticized the potential funding cut, citing widespread evidence that shows how pre-disaster mitigation yields savings compared with the money spent on post-disaster recovery. Others are calling the cuts "troubling" and a "savings mirage," as many believe that mitigation can be the best investment.
- A man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State stabbed a French policeman to death before taking the officer's wife and small child hostage. There are reports that the attacker may have live streamed the brutal attack on Facebook. The attacker, named by French sources as 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, was killed by police in a raid hours after the initial stabbing. The officer's wife was also found dead but the three-year-old boy survived. French President Francois Hollande said it was unquestionably a terrorist act.
- New findings about EgyptAir Flight 804 suggest that an in-flight explosion did not bring down the aircraft. Instead, new data points to the possibility that the plane may have veered off course before crashing into the sea. Time may be running out to find the true cause of the crash, as Egyptian investigators said they expect the plane's black boxes to stop emitting signals June 24. Without the black boxes, investigators said that discovering exactly what happened during the flight may not be possible.
- A wildfire burning in a remote part of northwest Alaska quickly grew from approximately 1,000 acres to more than 3,200 acres, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. Despite the rapid increase in size, the fire is not posing any threat to villages in the area. The fire was reported on Friday afternoon, and officials currently believe it to be human-caused.
- Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently reiterated his call to Congress to approve emergency funding to fight Zika as soon as possible. Legislation to provide funding to help battle the virus remains stalled. Frieden said that the delays are impeding the CDC's ability to protect American women and repeated his concerns about the spread of the virus in southern U.S. states during the summer months.
- German police recently warned that Islamic State (ISIS) loyalists could launch an attack during Euro 2016. Authorities are concerned that a terror attack involving the use of drones and chemical weapons could take place during a densely populated match. A police spokesman cautioned that Euro 2016 games are easy targets because so many people attend and so many other watch. The use of anti-drone technology is being discussed as a security measure.