At least 50 dead, 53 injured in Florida nightclub mass shooting; gunman identified

"One of the worst mass shootings in our nation's history," says Chief of Orlando Police, John Mina.

At least 50 dead, 53 injured in Florida nightclub mass shooting; gunman identified
Police cars surround the Pulse Orlando nightclub, the scene of fatal shooting in Florida.

Orlando: At least 50 people were dead and more than 53 injured in a shooting that erupted at a nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida, early on Sunday.

The shooting occurred at the Pulse nightclub which advertises itself on its website as 'Orlando`s hottest gay bar'.

As per reports, the incident began at around 2:00 am (0600 GMT) when a heavily armed gunman seized hostages, prompting a police SWAT team to storm the venue.

Police stormed the venue using explosives and breaking through a wall with a wheeled armored vehicle known as a BearCat. 

The shooter was shot dead by the police. 

"We have cleared the building, and it is with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties in addition to the shooter. There are another 53 that are hospitalized," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told a news briefing, raising the death toll from 20 previously.

Chief of Orlando Police, John Mina, said, "One of the worst mass shootings in our nation's history."

"It appears he was organised and well-prepared," the chief added. He also said that the attacker had an assault-type weapon and a handgun. 

Quoting law enforcement sources, US television networks named the shooter as Omar Mateen, who was born to Afghan parents in 1986 and lives in Port St Lucie, Florida, about two hours drive from Orlando.

CBS News reported that Mateen has no apparent criminal history.

However, police have yet to officially identify the gunman.

Reports said that it was unclear whether all the victims were killed by the gunman or if some died in the ensuing shootout with police.

Meanwhile, a number - 407.246.4357 (city's crisis hotline) - was issued, which said that people could call on it if they were looking for a family member. 

On the other hand, Orlando Health (A not-for-profit network of leading community hospitals, specialty hospitals and cancer center) tweeted saying -

They also said:

And the official Twitter handle of Orlando Police posted the following:

Earlier the Orlando Police had warned people to stay away from the area. 

At the same time, officials said that the incident was being investigated as a terrorist act.

"Anytime we have potentially dozens of victims in our communities, that I think we can qualify that as a terrorist activity. Whether that`s a domestic terrorist or international one is something we will get to the bottom of," said Danny Banks, of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Office, as per AFP.

Asked whether there was any reason to believe there was a connection to Islamic terrorism, FBI special agent Ron Harper said investigators would be looking into 'all angles'.

"We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology but we can`t say definitively," he said.

(With Agency inputs)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link