50 dead, 53 wounded in attack, says mayor
Mayor Dyer confirmed to a press conference that there were 50 killed and 53 hospitalised in the shooting, not 20 killed and 42 hospitalised as initially reported by police.
John Mina, chief of police said that initially officers believed there were 20 dead. But now that they have been able to access the entirety of the building, they can confirm up to 50 people have been killed.
“There were more victims than originally thought. Once we were sure there were no devices and could go in confidently, we were able to see the number of victims,” said Mina.
Mina said these numbers meant the shooting ranked as “definitely one of the worst tragedies.”
“It’s absolutely terrible, 50 casualties, one location, it’s absolutely one of the worst tragedies we’ve seen,” he said.
“Not enough ambulances to take everyone to the hospital, police were transporting in their cars.”
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) June 12, 2016
— Nic Hornstein (@nichornstein) June 12, 2016
9:15am Several news outlets have identified the gunman as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce Florida. source Guardian UK
Updated 8:30am CT 6/12/16
A shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando has killed about 20 people and sent 42 to the hospital, after Florida police and Swat teams ended a hostage situation with a gunman, killing him, in the early hours of of Sunday morning.
At a morning press conference the FBI described the shooting as an act of terrorism, saying: “Whether that’s a domestic terrorist activity or international, it’s terrorism.”
The press conference also gave details how the shooting began, the raid, and what few details police know so far about the gunman.
At approximately 2am on Sunday, an officer working at Pulse Club responded to shots fires and engaged in a gun battle with the suspect. The suspect at some point entered the night club and a hostage situation began.
Dozens of officers and federal agents responded to the shooting from around the area, and police began receiving phone calls from inside the club: calls from bathrooms and at least 15 people “in the area”, police chief John Mina said.
At approximately 5am police decided to rescue the hostages, setting off two “distractionary devices” and blowing apart a wall so a Swat team could storm the club. The suspect was killed in the ensuing gunfight. There were “at least 30 people that were saved during that rescue”, Mina said.
Police found an “assault-type rifle”, a handgun and “some kind of device” on the suspect’s body, and are working to clear the night club of any suspicious items. Bodies remain inside. Mina said there were “no witness accounts of a second shooter”.
About 20 people were killed, Mina said, and 42 taken to three area hospitals. One police officer sustained a minor injury.
Barack Obama’s press secretary has issued a statement:
“The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”
A gunmen opened fire at the Pulse Nightclub at 2:00 am Sunday morning. Reports are that one person opened fire from inside the club after firing from a car outside. The details are sketchy at the moment. It is not known if there have been fatalities but the people were laying prone on the ground in front of the nightclub.
Javer Antonetti, 53, went out to the club with his brother. He was towards the back of the room when he heard shots ring out. “There were so many, at least 40,” he said. “I saw two guys and it was constant, like ‘pow, pow, pow,’ ” he said. He said he ran out of the club. His brother is on crutches and was stuck inside. Antonetti said authorities were able to help save his brother, who he says is uninjured but still near the club. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “Police told me he’s safe but he’s still stuck back there.” He’s waiting near Orlando Regional Medical Center. Antonetti noticed when he made it out safe that he has blood smears on his shirt. He said he doesn’t know how they got there and didn’t see how many were injured.
Another witness, Rosie Feba, said she took her girlfriend to the club for the first time Saturday night. It was near closing time.
“She told me someone was shooting. Everyone was getting on the floor,” Feba said. “I told her I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.”
Feba and her girlfriend ran out of the club. On the way out, they saw a man who had been shot.
Feba grabbed him. Others around her called 911. Some of the man’s blood stained the sleeve of her striped T-shirt.
Both Feba and her girlfriend were unharmed, but shaken. They waited in a CVS parking lot for more information.
-Christal Hayes and Gal Tziperman Lotan The Orlando Sentinel reporting
Shooting at Pulse Nightclub on S Orange. Multiple injuries. Stay away from area. pic.twitter.com/5Di2mc6XUY
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
That sound was a controlled explosion by law enforcement. Please avoid reporting inaccuracies at this time.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016