At least 50 people have been killed in a mass shooting at an Orlando, FL, nightclub, according to police. The attack took place on a weekly Latin dance night at a downtown gay club called Pulse and left 53 additional victims injured. Police say the shooter, identified as Omar Mateen, was killed inside the club. It has been declared the the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Here's what we know so far:
- Mateen was a 29-year-old US citizen born in New York and living in Port St. Lucie, FL, according to NBC. While his exact motive is unknown, police are officially calling the attack a "terror incident."
- Mateen was a security guard who was armed with both an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun.
- Police and Mateen engaged in a brief shootout around 2 a.m., and Mateen then went inside the club to take hostages.
- Hostages hid in restrooms and closets to call for help.
- Officers, including a SWAT team, stormed the club around 5 a.m., killing Mateen in the process. They used explosives to distract Mateen as they entered the club to kill him.
- One police officer was wounded in an exchange of fire, however, his Kevlar helmet saved him.
- ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre but police say there is no direct connection between the group and the attack, reports Reuters.
- Two law enforcement officials told CNN that Mateen was being watched by the FBI and was on their radar as a possible ISIS sympathizer.
- Mayor Buddy Dyer has declared a state of emergency in Orlando.
- Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Florida. In a statement, he said, "We are a diverse state and we have wonderful people here in Florida that will respond with dignity, strength and fortitude in the days ahead."
- President Obama delivered a statement about the killing, saying, "The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub, it was a place of solidarity and empowerment."
In the aftermath of the attack, hundreds are lining up to give blood at donation centers. However, the FDA still maintains that sexually active gay men are prohibited from donating blood within a year of sexual activity, which has proven to be a point of contention for the local LGBT community.
On the social media front, Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature to allow friends and family to check on loved ones in the Orlando area, and elected officials, news agencies, and other influencers are releasing up-to-the-minute statements on the attacks.
Pulse shooting: In hail of gunfire in which suspect was killed, OPD officer was hit. Kevlar helmet saved his life. pic.twitter.com/MAb0jGi7r4— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
Mayor Buddy Dyer has declared a state of emergency in Orlando, asks governor to declare statewide— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) June 12, 2016
Orlando nightclub shooting that has killed 50, hospitalized 53 is worst mass shooting in U.S. history. https://t.co/b9uWguGyC8— The Associated Press (@AP) June 12, 2016
The Pulse nightclub attack is the worst mass shooting slaughter in American history. At least 50 dead, 53 wounded. https://t.co/VU3No3eCKq— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 12, 2016
Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Photos from the scene: Gunman at Orlando nightclub kills at least 50 https://t.co/WwdLnRG9TK— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 12, 2016
Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
Our prayers are with those injured and killed early this morning in horrifying act of terror in Orlando.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2016
Take time to mourn those lost in #Orlando & pray for their families.Terror & violence have no place in our world. We must fight it together.— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) June 12, 2016
Horrified by the mass shooting in Orlando. When will we do something to prevent these killing sprees?— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 12, 2016
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. The Tony Awards dedicate tonight's ceremony to them. (2/2)— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) June 12, 2016
#PulseNightclub was one of the first clubs where me and many of my friends felt comfortable enough to be ourselves. My heart hangs heavy.— yodito coquito 🇵🇷 (@VladimirBlue) June 12, 2016
— Additional reporting by Kelsey Garcia and Mandy Harris