Bloody massacre in Orlando: Muslim terrorist kills 50 at nightclub
A heavily armed Muslim terrorist opened fire in a packed Orlando nightclub early Sunday in a bloody massacre, killing 50 people and prompting a terrorism investigation, authorities said.
Mayor Buddy Dyer said 50 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the attack at Pulse Orlando, a gay club just south of downtown.
Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged in a gun battle with a suspect outside the club. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.
“Our biggest concern was further loss of life,” Mina said. “We exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and he was dead at the scene.”
A federal law enforcement official said the terrorist had been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Mina said 42 people were transferred to local hospitals, and one officer was wounded. He said at least 30 people were rescued.
“Tonight our community witnessed a horrific crime… that will have a lasting effect on our community,” a solemn Dyer said.
FBI Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the case was being investigated as a possible act of terrorism, either domestic or international. It was not clear if the shooter acted alone, he said. He said authorities were trying to determine if there was a connection with radical Islam.
“We do have suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” Hopper said.
A federal law enforcement official said investigators were reviewing the attacker’s possible utterances that may provide more specific information about a terror ideology or affiliation. The official, who was not authorized to comment, characterized the attack as “certainly’’ terrorism. It was not immediately clear whether investigators were aware of the attacker prior to the assault.
Mina said the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, a handgun and some sort of unidentified device. Officers from multiple agencies and dozens of emergency vehicles responded to the scene. Orange County Fire and Rescue called for gurneys to move victims from the club.
Police said on Twitter that the shooter inside the nightclub is dead. The sheriff also confirmed the attacker was killed by a SWAT team. The attacker was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, officials said.
Video footage being shared on social media showed wounded people being treated at the scene.
No official details of the incident have yet been given.
One man who says he was inside the club at the time and posted videos of the scene, said on his Facebook page that shots had been fired inside the club and people were “screaming that people are dead”.
“They are just pulling people out in stretchers loading them up,” Anthony Torres wrote.
Local TV reporter Stewart Moore tweeted that he had been told by a source that more than 20 people had been shot.
He said the attacker was still inside the nightclub with hostages, and was feared to be wearing a bomb.
Photos on social media show dozens of emergency vehicles at the scene.
According to a reporter from the Orlando News, the shooter is wearing a bomb.
People took to Facebook to share information on the shooting. Under the Pulse club post they wrote that the attacker has an assault rifle and is barricaded inside with hostages. Others said that at least 30 people had been shot in the club.