Orlando gay nightclub shooting: 50 killed, suspect is Omar Mateen

Fifty people are now known to have died in a shooting in
a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the city’s mayor
Buddy Dyer has said.
The gunman, named by officials as Omar Mateen, was killed
after taking hostages at the Pulse club.
President Barack Obama said Americans were united in
grief, outrage and “resolve to defend our people” after “an
act of terror and an act of hate”.
The attack is the worst mass shooting in recent US history.
Officials said the killings were likely to be ideologically
motivated, though there was no information that the
gunman was associated with a particular group.
Live updates
What we know
Eyewitness accounts
However, US Congressman Alan Grayson said it was “no
coincidence” the attack happened in a gay club.
“It may be we’ve seen the commission of an awful hate
crime,” he added.
Mateen’s father Mir Seddique told NBC News that the
incident had nothing to do with religion, and may have been
triggered by the sight of a gay couple kissing in Miami.
But NBC News reported that Mateen called the emergency
services before the attack and swore allegiance to the so-
called Islamic State militant group.
The group later said – via its affiliated Amaq news agency –
that an IS “fighter” had carried out the attack.
The claim did not specify whether IS was directly involved or
simply taking credit for inspiring the attack.
Condemnation
Mr Obama described the attack as “the brutal murder of
dozens of innocent people”.
“It was an act of terror and an act of hate,” he said, adding
that it was a heartbreaking day for the LGBT community.
An attack on any American is an attack on all, he added. “We
are united in grief, in outrage and resolve to defend our
people.”
Mr Obama ordered flags on federal buildings to be flown at
half mast until sunset on Thursday, AP reported.
French President Francois Hollande expressed “horror” at
the killings, and said Americans had the “full support of
France” in this “difficult time”.
Pope Francis condemned the “homicidal folly” of the
shooting.
It is believed that the suspect, who was a US citizen from the
Florida town of Port St Lucie and was of Afghan descent, was
not on a terrorism watch list, although he was being
investigated for an unrelated criminal act.
The death toll of 50 given by Mayor Dyer means that the
Orlando attack surpasses the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech
which left 32 people dead.
Another 53 people were injured in the shooting.
“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”.
“Because of the scale of the crime I’ve asked the [Florida]
governor to declare a state of emergency,” he said.
“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.”
Security has also been boosted for the last day of the Capital
Pride LGBT festival in Washington DC, which included a
moment of silence for the Orlando victims at 13:00 local
time, the Washington Post reported.
Worst US mass shootings in last 25 years
At least 50 dead, 2016 – Omar Mateen opens fire on
revellers at gay club in Orlando, Florida
32 dead, 2007 – Student Seung-Hui Cho massacres students
at Virginia Tech university before killing himself
27 dead, 2012 – Adam Lanza kills 20 six- and seven-year-old
children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook,
Connecticut
23 dead, 1991 – George Hennard drives through the wall of
a cafe in Killeen, Texas, before opening fire and committing
suicide
14 dead, 2015 – Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik
open fire at a staff gathering in San Bernardino
13 dead, 2009 – Maj Nidal Malik Hasan opens fire at army
base in Fort Hood, Texas
13 dead, 2009 – Jiverly Wong shoots people at New York
immigrant centre before killing himself
13 dead, 1999 – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill fellow
students and a teacher at Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colorado
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the attack began at
02:00 (06:00 GMT). There was an exchange of fire with a
police officer working at the club, but it is unclear whether
that was inside or outside the venue.
After this a “hostage situation” unfolded, he said.
Chief Mina said a decision was taken at 05:00 to send a
police assault team into the club after receiving texts and
phone calls from some of the hostages.
He said the suspect, who appeared to be carrying an assault-
type rifle and a handgun, was shot dead by police.
According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, the US last year
suffered 372 mass shootings, defined as a single incident
that kills or injures four or more people. Some 475 people
were killed and 1,870 wounded.
The latest incident came as Orlando was still reeling from
the fatal shooting on Friday night of 22-year-old singer
Christina Grimmie following a concert in the city.
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