50 Dead, 53 Wounded In Orlando Nightclub Terrorist Attack - Deadliest Mass Shooting In US History

The latest highlights:

  • 50 people killed, up from 20, making the Pulse nightclub attack the worst mass shooting in recent US history; New death toll came after investigators were able to gain better access to the building - they had to ensure it was clear of devices
  • 53 people were injured, many critically
  • Suspect identified as Omar Mateen, a US national, of Port St Lucie, Florida; Investigators are going through his personal papers, social media profile
  • The suspect's van has been secured outside the club
  • An assault rifle - AR-15 - was used on all the victims

* * *

Update 12:45 ET: According to Florida Governor Rick Scott, the overnight shooting at a gay nightclub that left 50 dead and 53 wounded is "clearly an act of terror." He added that "for somebody to go in there and be an active shooter and take that number (of lives) ... is clearly an act of terror," the Republican told a news conference.

* * *

Update 12:23 ET: The shooting appears to be "connected to Islamic radicalism" according to Florida Senator Ben Nelson

* * *

Update 12:18 ET: State of emergency declared in Florida

* * *

  • Update: 12:05 ET: President Barack Obama is to deliver statement on Orlando mass shooting at 13:30 local time (17:30 GMT), the White House says.

* * *

  • Update: 11:35 ET: The presidential candidates express their condolences:

* * *

  • Update 11:28 ET: ABC recounts the events events and the fatal showdown the Pulse nightclub:

A police officer working at the club responded to shots fired at 2:02 a.m., and then exchanged fire with Mateen, according to police. Mateen then took hostages, holding them for hours.


At approximately 5 a.m., the SWAT team made the decision to rescue the hostages, officials said. Mateen was killed in a gunfight with those officers early this morning.


FBI assistant agent in charge of the agency's Tampa division, Ron Hopper, said this morning investigators were "looking at all angles right now" to find a motive. "We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology [Islamic extremism]. But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around," he said.

* * *

  • Update 1055 ET: NBC's Pete Williams reports that terrorist was on a "watch list" over associations w "suspicious" people several years ago. ABC adds that Mateen's parents were born in Afghanistan, and he was "on the radar" of U.S. officials for some time, but was not the target of a specific investigation, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

* * *

  • Update 10:25 ET: According to NBC the number of casualties in the nightclub shooting has risen to 50, with 53 hospitalized. The  Orlando Mayor also notes that this is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history, worst attack since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in US history. He also added that a state of emergency declared after night club shooting. Florida Congressman Alan Grayson adds that he believes the attack is "more likely than not" ideologically motivated.

* * *

  • Update 9:45 ET: The White House issued the following statement

* * *

  • Update 9:25am ET: The Orlando shooter has been ID'd:

The suspected gunman in today's gruesome Orlando nightclub shooting which killed at least 50 and injured 53, has been identified by relatives and law enforcement officials as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Florida, CBS reports. According to social media, he is a US citizen, born in 1986, from Port Saint Lucie, FL. and both his parents are from Afghanistan. He was a registered democrat with a security officer and firearms license. The Orlando Mayor says he used an assault rifle, while Florida Congressman Alan Grayson adds that he believes the attack is "more likely than not" ideologically motivated.

CBS added that the FBI is currently checking if he was linked to extremists.


* * *

Original Story:

Approximately 20 killed and 42 injured after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police said early Sunday.  Officials said a hostage situation developed after the gunman stormed the Pulse Nightclub about 2 a.m. "We are looking at probably in the range of 20 [dead], but we don't want to give you an exact figure," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

The gunman was shot dead about three hours later when a SWAT team entered the club NBC reports. "It's appears he was organized and well-prepared," the chief said, adding that the shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and "some type of (other) device on him."

The preliminary assessment: the incident "could definitely be classified as domestic terrorism," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. Police have shot and killed the gunman, Mina told reporters.

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.


Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added that “many lives were lost.”

According to Reuters, officers said in a Twitter message that there were "multiple injuries" at the Pulse nightclub and local media reported that between seven and 20 people had been shot. The dance club urged patrons to "get out" and "keep running" in a post on its Facebook page. Police have not confirmed if there were any other people killed or the specific number of injuries.

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.

It was the second deadly shooting at an Orlando night spot in as many nights. Late Friday a man thought to be a deranged fan fatally shot Christina Grimmie, a rising singing star and a former contestant on "The Voice", while she was signing autographs after a concert in the Florida city.

Video posted online showed a large number of police and emergency vehicles outside the nightclub. Bomb sniffing dogs were also on the scene, CNN reported.  Dozens of police vehicles, including a SWAT team, swarmed the area around the club after the gunfire broke out. At least two police pickup trucks were seen taking what appeared to be shooting victims to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, The Associated Press reported.

In a flashback to the November 13 attacks in Paris, revelers described scenes of horror from inside the club. One witness told MSNBC that they had to crawl over bodies to escape. A post to the club's Facebook page at around 2 a.m. warned "everyone get out of Pulse and keep running." Witness video from outside showed dozens of first responders at the scene, and several victims on the ground.

"It was tragic," club-goer Christopher Hansen told MSNBC. "I wasn't sure if it was the music, because ... it went with the beat almost until you heard just too many shots.

"It was just like — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang bang — and that's when you just know chaos is just, it was in turmoil," he added.

Several patrons had posted on social media that a gunman was holed up inside and holding hostages. One man who said he was inside the club posted that the shooting broke out around 2 a.m. and that he heard about 40 shots being fired. Javer Antonetti, 53, told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that he was near the back of the dance club when he heard the gunfire. "There were so many (shots), at least 40," he said. "I saw two guys and it was constant, like 'pow, pow, pow,'.

"Police said they had carried out a "controlled explosion" at the club hours after the shooting broke out, but did not say why that was done. They described the scene as a "fluid situation".

Mina Justice was outside the club trying to contact her 30-year-old son Eddie, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her: "He's coming." "The next text said: 'He has us, and he's in here with us,'" she told the Associated Press. "That was the last conversation."

Witness Anthony Torres posted to Facebook that he and his friends made it out of the club "just barely as we started to hear fire being shot." "They are just pulling people out in stretchers loading them up," he said, referring to first responders. "Omg please god let everyone make it.

"People are screaming that people are dead," Torres wrote in another post. The shooting at the nightclub comes during a series of national celebrations that mark LGBT pride month.

"As soon as we have any information we will update everyone," the club later posted to Facebook. "Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love."

* * *

Authorities urged caution as police officers hovered nearby with weapons and dogs. A few miles away, the Orlando Regional Medical Center was placed on lockdown, the hospital said in a statement. Only essential workers are being allowed access into the building. Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital were also placed on lockdown out of an abundance of caution, officials said.

* * *

The motive, or the identity of the shooter , are so far unknown. "At this time we're looking at all angles right now,” an FBI official said. He was asked if the shooter might have possible connections with extremists.

“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that particular ideology [extremism]. But right now we can’t say definitively so we’re still running everything around,” he added.

And moments ago Trump just tweeted about the shooting: