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EXCLUSIVE: Geraldo Rivera Gets Emotional Discussing Orlando Nightclub Shooting: 'It Makes Me Sick'

by Zach Seemayer 12:33 AM PDT, June 13, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Geraldo Rivera Gets Emotional Discussing Orlando Nightclub Shooting: 'It Makes Me Sick'

Geraldo Rivera got emotional on Sunday, talking about mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida that took the lives of 50 people and injured at least 53 others.

Rivera spoke with ET in Florida hours after the shooting, and the Fox News correspondent opened up about the "gut-wrenching" tragedy.

"America is basically a place where people can be free, be whoever they are. Here in Florida, particularly, they're very welcoming to the gay community," Rivera, 72, explained. "Whatever floats your boat it's fine with most people in Florida. [But] you have this one hateful individual, this terrorist, this radical Islamic extremist, who chooses this target, feeling that he is religiously justified. It makes me sick."

WATCH: LGBT Groups, Celebs and Public Figures Pay Tribute After 50 Killed in Orlando Nightclub Shooting

The American-born gunman, Omar Mateen, reportedly pledged allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS in a 9-1-1 call he made during his attack, according to CNN. Mateen, whose assault was ended when he was killed by police after a three-hour stand-off, reportedly carried out the attack with an assault rifle and a hand gun.

The veteran TV personality recounted hearing about the shooting early Sunday. "I got a call this morning… It was the New York desk saying there was a mass murder in a nightclub," Rivera recalled. "My first thought, it was a gangster rap, hip hop-related [incident]."

WATCH: Tony Awards Dedicating Sunday's Ceremony to Victims of Orlando Mass Shooting

According to the former Dancing With the Stars contestant, covering incidents like the mass shooting in Orlando makes Rivera think of his family, and wanting to keep them safe.

"My daughter Simone was in Paris, in the stadium, when three people blew themselves up outside in November in 2015," an emotional Rivera said, referring to the suicide bombings near the French national football stadium that occurred on Nov. 13.

"I know what that feels like to be a parent worrying about your child being attacked by these monsters, by these savages and to have it happen right here at home, to have it happen so close among us is really almost more than you can bear," Rivera continued, before warning, " Self-starting, spontaneously combusting, ISIS-inspired Islamic extremist terrorism – it’s coming to a town near you."

WATCH: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zachary Levi and Other Tony Stars Weigh in on Orlando Shooting

The shootings cast a solemn shadow over this year's Tony Awards, where those in attendance wore silver ribbons to commemorate the victims of the shooting.

Host James Corden opened the show with a message of love and solidarity, while Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda addressed the shootings in the form of a sonnet he recited while accepting the award for Best Original Score. Watch the video below to hear his emotional words.

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