At Least 49 Dead 53 injured in Orlando Nightclub Shooting
By: Erin Johnson, Xiro Xone News June 15, 2016 Updated: 4:55 PM
A massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub early Sunday morning has been described as a "domestic terror incident" with 49 dead and 53 injured, hospitalized individuals, officials said, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The shooter has been identified by officials as Omar Mateen of St. Lucie County, Florida, an American-born citizen with Afghani parents.
FBI assistant agent in charge of the agency's Tampa division, Ron Hopper, was asked at a news conference on Sunday at 7 a.m. if the shooter, who was shot and killed by police, had ties to Jihadist terror groups.
At a second press conference, officials announced that the death toll of the attack had risen to 50 dead, more than doubling what had been reported earlier this morning.
"At this time we're looking at all angles right now," the official said. "We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology. But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around.”
The FBI also said Mateen "was organized and well-prepared," adding "he is not from this area."
Governor Rick Scott (Rep.) of Florida stated that the shooting was "clearly an act of terror."
Mateen's father said to the contrary that the shooting had nothing to do with terrorism rather, his son was angered when "he said two men kissing."
A police officer working as a security guard inside the Pulse nightclub exchanged fire with the suspect at about 2 a.m. (0600 GMT), police officials said.
A hostage situation quickly developed, and three hours later a squad of officers stormed the club and shot dead the gunman. It was unclear when the gunman shot the victims.
"Do we consider this an act of terrorism? Absolutely, we are investigating this from all parties' perspective as an act of terrorism," said Danny Banks, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Hours after the rampage ended, family members and friends were in the neighborhood trying to locate loved ones who were missing and believed to have been at the club. Police set up a restricted perimeter around the club to keep people away.
Three local area hospitals were put on lockdown, with only essential workers and relatives of victims allowed access, though two of the lockdowns had been lifted by about 9 a.m. local time (1300 GMT).
Later in the day, President Obama called the Pulse massacre "an act of terror and an act of hate." He called Mateen "a person filled with hatred."
He also stressed the resilience of the people in his state. "We're going to do everything we can to help bring the community together," he said.