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Politics

Terrorism Comes to Florida: At Least 50 Shot Dead in Orlando Nightclub

June 12, 2016 - 3:30pm

UPDATED: The Islamic State has taken credit for the nation's deadliest mass shooting in Orlando which left 50 people dead and over 50 injured.

"The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter," the Islamic State's news agency Amaq said, according to Reuters.

City officials identified Omar Mateen, 29, from Port St. Lucie, as the killer of 49 people early Sunday inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. 

It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. 

FBI agent Ron Hopper said investigators had “suggestions that individual has leanings towards” radical Islamic terrorism, but a motive was not yet clear. Mateen called 911 moments before the attack and pledged his allegiance to Islamic State, a federal law enforcement official said.

At least 53 more people were injured, Orlando police said. Police shot and killed the gunman.

The earliest reports claimed 20 people had died and 42 were injured in the 3 a.m. shooting.

"It's appears he was organized and well-prepared," Orlando police chief John Mina said, adding that the shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and "some type of (other) device on him." He was also carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he opened fire on the dance floor.

"There's blood everywhere," U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson told reporters. "There's an enormous amount of evidence to be collected."

Gov. Rick Scott arrived in Orlando Sunday afternoon to meet with law enforcement and local officials. 
 
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and all those affected by this horrific tragedy," Scott said. "We are a strong and resilient state and we will devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando. Our state emergency operations center is also monitoring this tragic incident.  I have been in constant communication with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and state and local law enforcement this morning. I would like to also thank all the first responders who quickly came to assist and help those in need.”

Early Sunday afternoon, Scott declared a state of emergency in Orange County.

President Barack Obama called the shooting an "act of terror and an act of hate."

"In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another," he said Sunday afternoon. "We will not give into fear."

Thousands flocked to blood banks to donate blood to the victims, with many Orlando-area blood banks at capacity.

As of this article's writing, there was no clear motive, but Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Tampa Field Division Trevor Velinor said the gunman legally purchased the firearm in Florida last week.

Rasha Mubarak, Orlando regional coordinator of the Florida affiliate of Cair, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, issued a statement of condemnation for the nightclub shooting.

"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured," Mubarak said. "The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."

At least nine officers were involved in the shootout, Mina said. Several coroner vans were seen traveling toward the nightclub.

"So, terrorism has finally come to Florida," one distraught onlooker told CNN. "It feels like it came looking for me. I take it personally," he said. "I have friends in that club or in the hospital, I don't know where they are right now, I can't get them to answer their phones."

After authorities heard by cellphone from victims inside the club who said they were wounded and in danger, the nine officers stormed in to confront Mateen. One officer suffered an eye injury, and officials credited his helmet for saving his life.

Witnesses described a bloody scene in and around the downtown club, with dozens of shots fired.

Police said an off-duty officer working a security job at the club was the first to exchange gunfire with the attacker, who then barricaded himself inside the club and took hostages.

Witnesses said authorities seemed to be searching for someone in the area around the club after there were reports that there was a second shooter involved in the attack. But authorities said those accounts were unfounded.

Although the club was preparing to close about the time the assault began, some 320 people were still inside.

One person who said he had been at the club when the shooting began managed to escape because he was near an exit. Other people who were dancing or at the bar tried to take cover by dropping to the floor.

One witness told the Orlando Sentinel that the shooting lasted “the duration of an entire song.”

Another clubgoer, Jon Alamo, said he was at the back of one of the club’s rooms when the gunman came in through the front.

“I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,” he said. “The music stopped.”

Mina Justice told CNN she was outside the club trying to contact her 30-year-old son, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her: “He’s coming.”

“The next text said: ‘He has us, and he’s in here with us,’” she said. “That was the last conversation.”

Video of emergency crews helping victims was posted on social media as other victims were carried or were walking to nearby Orlando Regional Medical Center. But the New York Daily News also reported emergency services were so overwhelmed the wounded were being loaded on the back of pickups to be transported.

Soon after police reported that the gunman had been found dead, the club posted online: “As soon as we have any information we will update everyone. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love.”

Update: Orlando police have identified 36 of the 49 victims whose next of kin have been notified. To see the full list, click here.

 

(This report was taken from a variety of newspaper and television network news sources. It is a rapidly developing story and may be further updated. Please check back.)

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

Keep the victims in your prayers.

The shooter was a US citizen. He was not an immigrant. Blaming every shooting incident on the Muslim religion or on Syrian refugees is ludicrous. Lest we forget, Hitler was a Christian. Our racism and bigotry in this country is out of control, and sadly gasoline is being thrown on that fire of racism by the GOP presidential candidate.

It's despicable to interject politics into this tragedy. Radical Muslims have declared war on us. Wake up and stop the PC/political garbage.

lots of people are called and call themselves Christians; it doesn't mean they are. REAL Christians don't kill people, only deranged people do; and just being a US citizen does not mean someone cannot commit an act of terrorism. there are many other things out of control in this country as well. all of that is used as a scapegoat to not be able to call something or someone what they are, murderers. and by the way, when a mass shooting is done by someone that's NOT muslim; they are not called muslim; but when a mass shooting is done BY a muslim, then, by golly.....they ARE muslims. the political correctness that has overtaken this country is absolutely nauseating.

Are you a Muslim..? or are you out of your Mind like a Muslim..? Let me see..? United States January 25, 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Muslim Assault) United States February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in New York City. (Muslim Assault) United States September 11, 2001 September 11, (911) 4 airliners hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda members in the East Coast of the United States: two planes crashed into and destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings in New York City, one went into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and one crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in a failed attempt to hit Washington, D.C. (either the White House or the U.S. Capitol), after a revolt by the plane's passengers. (Muslim Attack) United States June 1, 2009 – Little Rock recruiting office shooting by Abdulhakim Muhajid Muhammad. 1 killed and 1 injured (Muslim Attack) United States November 5, 2009 – Fort Hood shooting, at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas. 13 dead, 33 injured. United States April 15, 2013 – Boston Marathon bombings. Two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnev, planted two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The blast killed 3 and injured 183 others (Muslim Attack) United States October 23, 2014 – Zale H. Thomson, also known as Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik, attacked four New York policemen in the subway with a hatchet, severely injuring one in the back of the head and injuring another policeman in the arm before being shot to death by the remaining officers, who also shot a civilian (Muslim Attack) United States July 16, 2015 – 2015 Chattanooga shootings (Muslim Attack) United States July 4, 2002 Los Angeles International Airport shooting. (Muslim Attack) Orlando Florida June 11, 2016 Orlando Florida, Night Club, full of over 300 innocent.. hard working American Citizens having some fun on a Saturday night and gunned down without warning, (Muslim Attack) Give me a Break..You have sympathy for the Muslim no other race of any kind has Spilled this much Blood on American Soil not counting the financial hurt in our Great Country's History . You NAUSEATE ME with that post . GO TRUMP!!!!!

REALLY? --> "No other race of any kind has Spilled this much Blood on American Soil" . . . . . not even white male Caucasians? . . . . . at least we can now understand the delusional fact basis for those supporting Trump's racism . . . . . even for someone only like yourself on SSN for only the past 4 hours . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Sad situation. Most homosexuals do not carry weapons. Most everyone drinking. An easy target. Lets wait and hear what sort of terrorist this was. Probably not a Mexican, not their style unless protecting turf of drugs. Most likely an Isis type that came on student visa Obabasaba issued. We can expect to hear from the anti gun nuts how stricter laws would have stopped this. Of course, horse manure but give them something to drone on about on MSNBC. A fast .38 to the brain would have stopped it. Still sad, poor bastards were not bothering anyone.

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Absolutely Agree..Americans should be asking how a club owner with over Three Hundred Patrons in his establishment at 2:00 am in the morning did not have at least one armed security guard, retired law officer or responsible US citizen who could carry under his employ..? Just one shot would have ended the entire incident. Would over 50 innocent people be dead right now if that was a biker bar..! Don't think so..the US Government gun reg. is the problem not the guns..!

Sigh, of course you must be far right . . . . . . . . the club did have an armed off-duty policeman who entered into a gun battle with the gunman . . . . . as the NY TIMES put it --> "An armed off-duty officer working security at the club confronted Mr. Mateen and engaged in a “gun battle,” Chief Mina said." . . . . . . . . . . don't be like Trump and make stuff up . . . . . at least try to obtain the apparent facts first . . . . PATHETIC . . .

APPARENT, you got that part right and the NEW YORK TIMES is owned by an Australian Billionaire. I live in New York with a summer home in Florida and that paper went bankrupt years ago there ding dong and the Aussie picked it up for peanuts. It's now like reading the National Enquirer for News in New York City ..!!!!!! Do you really think if some one was in any kind of firearm battle with this guy regardless of if he lived, died or ran out the front door....it would be all over CNN, CBS, NBC..get a grip guy please.

To bad, a number of other outlets (like Tampa Bay Times, etc.) indicate the same thing from the Chief's briefing . . . . . . . why should I trust FoxNoise or other TV news media that can't even seem to understand that Florida does NOT require a permit to purchase/own the AR-15 . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

All I'm trying to say is its our constitutional right to bear arms, I myself do not even own any weapons, not one. But here in New York all the Bad Guys do and many many responsible hard working people, former military gals&guys, retired lawmen..ext and its our right by the constitution of this great country lets just keep it that way. Actually you do not need a license to drive any vehicle in any state in the USA... If you have not applied for a drivers license in that state..that also includes paying any tolls and that is fact and your right to travel as an American citizen, once you apply you lose your right and it becomes a privilege in most states..I've personally won in NY, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida...read up on your awesome constitutional rights there ...Ding Dong..!

You know, with the Affordable Care Act, you can get treatment for those truthiness delusions of yours . . . . . . . . . . .

LOL ! You assume this person has the wit to recognize his/her delusions..

All true my unfriendly Socialistic Democrat, All written by the Greatest minds of our Founding time...maybe the brightest, fairest.. group of minds ever assembled ......Sit down and read our Constitution and Bill of Rights someday... Ding Dong!!!

PS. The original Bill of Rights, not the amended versions by the knuckle heads that followed ....!!

Very good . . . . replying to your own reply now . . . . you must work for SSN . . . . mentioned so often, it must be that Ding Dongs are your own special personal food option . . . . . of course, that would help explain a lot . . . . . . . including your brain-challenged, selective (illegal) discounting of all Constitutional amendments since the Civil War . . . . which explains the rest of your running nonsense . . . . . . rightwing nonsense is always . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Comments show our real problem, and It's not President Obama.

Not to long ago ISIS put out a list of cities targeted for terrorist attacks, Orlando is on the list. Guess nobody took them seriously.

This on top of Obama rushing Syrian refugee in without properly vetted. "Over 100 Syrian refugees have been admitted every day in June according to the federal government’s own database from the Refugee Processing Center. More than 1,000 were admitted in May. "

So what . . . this was an American born citizen . . . . perhaps you'd like to vet ALL 18-year old American citizens like we vet Syrian refugees, and not let American born 18 year-olds live permanently in the U.S. for 18 months or longer until we check them all out to ensure they'll be as problem free as have the few Syria refugees we've let in . . . . . . . . truthiness-based blatant bigotry . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

I don't believe a wall big enough could be built to hold off these towelheads, so when Donald Trump is elected, hopefully they'll no longer be welcomed here! NOT the ones already here But those wanting to come here, until completely vetted. How many more lives will we allow to be taken by these clowns? GO TRUMP!!

Are you also anti-gay? Are you a real person that really thinks this way? What about the 50 people killed and their families? This was an American citizen that committed these crimes based on bigotry towards gays. I bet you would have like him. I bet he was voting for Trump.

This was a very soft, soft, soft target ding dong, Marco Rubio, had been warning America about this home based New Face of online radicalism type Terror attacks during his entire campaign..! He was the brightest, most grounded, stable, qualified, experienced and tough on terrorism...candidate America had in there grasp and now he's looked down upon..? The peoples selection process may be the bigger problem in today's American Politics, not the Politicians themselves..what happens to America with a lady in the white house..the west gets more respect..?????

this was a terrible, terrible crime. and the survivors and the families who lost loved ones will never be the same. however, this American citizen that committed the crimes, he was a muslim. and, he was recorded calling the police announcing why he was doing this. the hardline muslims, they are the ones that hate gays. they're the ones that throw them off roofs in the middle east and hang them from cranes and other such things.

Totally correct ..so we should keep letting them enter and exit our country by the hundreds per month and thousands by the year with there little makeshift passports and papers ..? Every American should take a trip to Saudi Arabia just once in their lives..just once. You would pray on your hands and knees for Trump to win this upcoming election....For sure!!!!!

This on top of Obama rushing Syrian refugee in without properly vetted. "Over 100 Syrian refugees have been admitted every day in June according to the federal government’s own database from the Refugee Processing Center. More than 1,000 were admitted in May. "

Respectfully suggest you perform a bit of due diligence on the lengthy process which applies to all refugees. Those individuals fleeing the murderous conditions in their home countries endure wait times of 2-3 +years while investigations, etc. are performed.Many die while waiting for permission. Those coming from areas in the Middle East where terrorism is common undergo extra , time-consuming scrutiny.Your diatribes sound as if your sole sources of information are online right-wing blogs and/or fake 'news" sites. I would hazard a guess your cable TV info is provided by those oh-so-truthful non-journalists/talking empty heads at Faux Noise. (A dictionary proves helpful-the definition of "refugee" is quite specific).

Comments are now closed.

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