Gunfire erupted from the Pulse Orlando, a popular LGBT nightclub, on Sunday, June 12, 2016. The shooting caused multiple injuries and fatalities, according to CNN. Just hours prior to the shooting, inside the nightclub, partygoers were urged to attend the club’s Latin Flavor event.
Witnesses stated that the gunfire was repetitive and did not sound like it was coming from a regular handgun. Police and SWAT teams rushed to the scene before authorities conducted a controlled explosion near the nightclub after the shooting. Controlled explosions are used to break down doors or if there is a barricaded person in a room and police need to use a stun grenade to subdue them.
According to CNN, Orlando Reginal Medical Center was on lockdown. The hospital stated that only essential workers were being allowed access into the building. Other hospitals in the area were on lockdown as well, as a precaution after the shooting occurred inside the popular Orlando LGBT nightclub.
According to WESH2 news, many victims were being loaded into ambulances and a crisis negotiator was on the scene. Reports have confirmed that the shooter is dead.
Many victims could be seen being carried away on stretchers or walking to the nearby hospital. Authorities have called this a mass casualty situation. Orlando police say they are multiple injuries, and it is still unclear how many were injured or killed during the shooting. Police are currently working with state and federal officials.
A witness reported hearing about 40 gunshots, however, it has not been officially confirmed how many rounds were fired during the shooting. Another witness told WESH 2 news, that his friend was wounded and remained locked in the bathroom, inside the nightclub, for many hours after the shooting.
Bomb dogs and police officers were seen walking the grounds around the hospital, due to rumors of a second shooter, which has not been confirmed. They were also looking for any evidence of possible bombs.
Police said officers exchanged fire with the suspect. He was found carrying an assault rifle and a suspicious device that could have been a bomb. The suspect was also seen with a handgun.
There were at least 42 people taken to the hospital. Many more people may be dead but are still inside the club after the shooting.
Orlando’s Sheriff is calling this a domestic act of terrorism. FBI officials have said there were no further threats to the Orlando area, at this time. There were nine officers involved in the shooting with the suspect. One officer was shot in the eye while he was wearing a helmet, which saved his life.
After the controlled explosive action, officers and the gunman exchanged fire. During which the officers were able to save at least 30 people. Police said, in a news conference, there were at least 20 people dead inside the Orlando nightclub. About 43 injured people were transported to the hospital.
Shots were first fired at 2 a.m. EDT, and around 5 a.m EDT, police broke into the club, after receiving numerous calls from victims. Reports stated it had appeared the shooter was well prepared and organized. Police are looking into the shooting as a possible hate crime.
According to WFTV 9, updates have been made as of 9:05 a.m. Governor Rick Scott is coming to Orlando.
9:10 a.m. update: Orlando-area hospitals are no longer under lockdown.
9:45 a.m. update: The shooter was identified as Omar S. Mateen, of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Governor Scott calls a State of Emergency for Orlando.
10:24 a.m. update: Officials have stated that the death toll has now risen to 50 and 53 others have been hospitalized.
By Brandy Combs
Edited by Jeanette Smith
CNN News: Approximately 20 dead inside Florida nightclub after mass shooting
WESH2 News: Multiple dead, at least 42 taken to hospital after shooting at downtown Orlando nightclub
WFTV9 News: Number killed in Pulse Nightclub shooting increased to 50, officials say
Photo Courtesy of Cliff’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License