Early this morning, a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub killing 50 people and leaving another 53 injured, in what is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. While the nation mourns these victims, the ATX Television Festival, which continues today in Austin, Texas, announced that they are canceling their planned Viewer Discretion Advised panel, which explores violence in television. The rest of the festival's lineup is still happening as scheduled.
The panel was set to be hosted by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, which would have explored the nature of TV violence. However, in light of the tragic events last night in Orlando, which came just one night after The Voice singer Christina Grimmie was also shot and killed in Orlando, the panel has been cancelled. Here's what the festival had to say in a statement on Twitter.
"Out of respect for the victims of the tragedy in Orlando last night, we won't be holding the Viewer Discretion Advised panel today. While it is a very important conversation to have, today does not feel like the time to have it."
At approximately 2 AM last night, 29-year-old Omar Mateem opened fire with an off-duty police officer outside the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando. He then ran inside the club and created a hostage situation that lasted for approximately three hours. The Today Show's Willie Geist contacted the suspect's father, who claimed that his son got angry after seeing a gay couple kissing in Miami a few months ago, and he thinks this is what may have lead to the attack. The suspect was killed after a standoff with the police.
The suspect was on the FBI's radar, suspected of being an ISIS sympathizer, although the authorities had no knowledge that he was planning an attack. He reportedly called 911 around the time of the attack, pledging his support to ISIS while mentioning the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. The suspect worked as a private security guard for a "major company" that provides services for the federal government. The security guard license allowed him to purchase weapons used in the attack, which included an assault rifle and a handgun. Take a look at the ATX Festival's statement about the TV violence panel's cancellation below.