Over 20 people are dead and 42 people have been transported for medical treatment at Pulse nightclub, in Orlando, Florida.
The shooting began around 2 a.m., and an officer responded, Mina said. The officer engaged in a shoot out outside the club. The gunman then ran into the club.
“That turned into a hostage situation. Police and relatives were getting calls from people inside the club.
The killer was well prepared carrying automatic weapons. Police Chief John Mina also said the shooter had some sort of “suspicious device.”
The suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2 a.m., then went back inside and took hostages
“That turned into a hostage situation,” Mina said. Authorities were getting calls from people inside the club but away from the gunman, the chief said.
“Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running,” the nightclub posted on its Facebook page shortly after the violence began
Around 5 a.m., authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages, and the suspect then died in a gunfight with those officers. Mina said police have not determined an exact number of casualties, but that “approximately 20” people were dead inside the club.
“It’s just shocking,” said Christopher Hansen who was inside Pulse. He heard gunshots, “just one after another after another.”
FBI spokesman Danny Banks said during a news conference that the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
Orlando police warned residents to stay away from the area, and urged people not to call their offices. They declined to provide the number of casualties, saying details will be available later. Bomb sniffing dogs are on the scene.
Back2Stonewall’s hearts and prayers go out to the victims, friends, and families of this terrible incident.
We will keep you updated as more details come available.
UPDATE #1: 9:00 a.m.
At a press conference on Sunday at 7 a.m., an FBI official was asked if the shooter, who was shot and killed by police, had ties to Jihadist terror groups. “At this time we’re looking at all angles right now.” the official said. “We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology. But right now we can’t say definitively so we’re still running everything around”
Update #2: 11.30 a.m.
According to new information released the numbers now stand at 50 people killed and over 53 wounded inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, Orlando making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The shooter has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando.
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