Police say a gunman opened fire inside the crowded nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers.
Mateen attacked Pulse, a popular LGBT nightclub in Orlando at around 2:00 AM Sunday, firing rounds into the ceiling and into hordes of people, officials said. Orlando Police Chief John Mina told the news agency that police shot and killed Mateen.
He was armed with an assault-type rifle, a handgun and some sort of "suspicious device", police said.
Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott traveled late Sunday morning to Orlando. Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families.
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Federal Bureau of Investigation 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.
Word of the situation spread shortly after 2 a.m., when Pulse Nightclub posted on its Facebook page, "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running". Local law enforcement responded to calls and an officer and the shooter engaged in a shootout before the shooter entered the club. At least one police officer was wounded in the raid, shot in the head, but saved by the Kevlar helmet he was wearing. It is not clear whether there are more shooters, and the extent of victims' injuries is unknown. The FBI is leading the investigation and federal investigators are trying to determine who the suspect was in contact with in the days and hours leading up to the attack. I have been in constant communication with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and state and local law enforcement this morning.
"We're also issuing a state of emergency for the city of Orlando so that we can bring additional resources to bear to deal with the aftermath".
Clubbers who went to Pulse have been urged to come forward and speak with police. He said he believed this could be linked to the shooting.
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The gunman, named by officials as Omar Mateen, was killed after taking hostages.
CNN reports that three Orlando area hospitals have been placed on lockdown because of the mass shooting. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. Jackie Smith, who was inside the club, said two friends next to her were shot.
The incident follows the fatal shooting on Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself.
"Today we're dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable", he said, adding that there was "an enormous amount of havoc" and "blood everywhere".
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