U.S. government verifies beheading of Pinecrest journalist Steven Sotloff

Sotloff last seen in Syria in 2013

PINECREST, Fla. - The United States government has verified an Internet video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group ISIS.

Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syria in August 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against the backdrop of an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the group in Iraq.

In the video distributed Tuesday and entitled "A Second Message to America," Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is beheaded by a masked Islamic State fighter.

Sotloff spoke to the camera before his execution, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention.

The ISIS fighter also spoke to the camera, specifically addressing President Barack Obama, saying, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."

Sotloff grew up in Pinecrest and attended the University of Central Florida.

Neighbors are paying respects at Sotloff's family home.

The parents of Steven Sotloff didn't come out of their home Tuesday.

Police officers blocked the driveway as reporters gathered outside.

Neighbor Pepe Cazas said "everyone is grieving." He said he had been praying for Sotloff.

Sotloff's mother released a video statement last week begging the militants to release her son. He had been kidnapped over a year ago while working as a freelance reporter covering the Syrian conflict.

A family spokesman released a short statement Tuesday afternoon saying Sotloff's family "knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately."

Gov. Rick Scott released a statement sending his condolences to the family. He also had harsh words for ISIS.

"The people who did this are evil," Scott said. "They are not merely wrong. They are not adversaries. They are evil.  And evil must be confronted and destroyed. In fact, these immoral animals reject the basic code of human morality that crosses all cultures. This is not a political or international disagreement. It is a case of barbarians choosing to set themselves apart from the rest of humanity."

Scott, who canceled his second political rally of the day Tuesday, then called on Obama to act against the Islamic State militants who have held Sotloff in captivity.

"Last week President Obama said that his administration does not at present have a strategy for dealing with ISIS -- these immoral evil people," Scott said. "I think I can speak for all Floridians and all Americans when I say that the time for a strategy is now, and part of that strategy needs to include destroying them."

Obama said Americans will not be intimidated by the "horrific" violence of ISIS.

The president is vowing that "justice will be served" after the U.S. verified the authenticity of a video of Sotloff's killing.

Obama said at a news conference while traveling Wednesday in Estonia that their deaths only unite Americans. He said Americans will not forget and the country's reach is long.

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