ORLANDO, Fla. (AP/WFLA) — Police say the shooter at an Orlando nightclub used an AR-15-type assault rifle on all the victims.
Officials say 50 were killed at the popular gay club. That makes it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Investigators told NBC News that the FBI was looking into Mateen three years ago because of a statement he had made about radical Islamic propaganda. Law enforcement officials NBC News that Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of ISIS on a 911 phone call shortly before the shooting.
Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday news conference that the shooter used the assault rifle, with unknown rounds, and also had a handgun.
Officials at the news conference also say they have securing the suspect’s vehicle, a van, right outside the club.
The shooter has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Rick Scott, Florida’s Governor has called the mass shooting an “act of terrorism”.
A SWAT truck and a bomb disposal unit are on the scene of an address associated with the man named as the shooter in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Fort Pierce is about 118 miles southeast of Orlando. The apartment complex is a series of two-story buildings.
Numerous police officers and members of the FBI also area there.
Dr. Mike Cheatham is a trauma surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center, where 46 patients were taken. The majority are in critical condition.
He tells The Associated Press, “I think we will see the death toll rise.”
“There’s blood everywhere,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said Sunday at a news conference, hours after the shooting.
He says the shooter used an assault rifle on all those killed.
Fatriana Evans frequents the Pulse nightclub and was outside when shots were fired.
Evans says, “It sounded like fireworks – pop, pop, pop – and then everybody scatters.”
Jackie Smith was inside the club and says two friends next to her were shot. She says she hasn’t gotten updates on their conditions. She came out of the hospital and burst into tears in the arms of friends.
She says: “Some guy walked in and started shooting everybody. He had an automatic rifle, so nobody stood a chance. I just tried to get out of there.”
The father of the man named as the shooter in a massacre at a gay Florida nightclub says he’s in shock and that he wasn’t aware of anything his son might have been planning.
Mir Seddique is the father of Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Seddique told NBC News that his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting.
Seddique says: “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. … We are in shock like the whole country.”
The father also says the incident has nothing to do with religion.
Earlier, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson identified the shooter as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. He cited law enforcement officials in speaking to reporters.
According to NBC, the shooter is Omar Mateen. He has no apparent criminal record. He lived in Port St. Lucie.
Police said about 320 people were inside the nightclub when the shooter opened fire. Police Chief John Mina said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2 a.m., then went back inside and took hostages.
People fled to bathrooms inside the nightclub and called 911. Police responded to the nightclub and used an explosive device to distract the gunman as they entered. They saved the lives of at least 30 people who were in the bathroom.
Nine police officers shot and killed the gunman, according to a police spokesperson. One police officer was slightly injured. Orlando Police Chief John Mina said that the officer’s Kevlar helmet saved his life.
FBI spokesman Danny Banks said during a news conference that the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is on his way to Orlando to meet with law enforcement and local officials. He issued the following statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and all those affected by this horrific tragedy. 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.”
Authorities say the shooter was organized and well prepared. Police say a device was found on the shooter’s body. Authorities did not identify the shooter, but said the shooter was not from the Orlando area. They are still trying to positively identify the shooter.
Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-9) has issued a following statement on the shooting:
“This morning a gunman shot and killed at least 20 people at a nightclub in Orlando, and injured at least 40 others. Our thoughts and our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the entire Orlando community. Words cannot express the horror, pain and sadness that we feel about this terrible loss. I commend the Orlando police for their heroic efforts to save the lives of those who could be saved. Local and federal law enforcement are working right now to uncover more information about the motive and other circumstances of the shooting.”
The emergency response has prompted multiple road closures around the nightclub. Police are asking the public to avoid the area.
Police are asking anyone who was at the Pulse nightclub and was a witness to go to Orlando Police HQ located at 100 S. Hughey Ave. Anyone with information about the shooting is also asked to call the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL FBI.
As for those who were injured, Orlando Health Hospital is asking anyone who has an immediate family member at the hospital to go to the main entrance of the hospital’s new north tower at 52 West Underwood Street. ID will be required, the hospital said in a tweet.
The Pulse nightclub posted to its Facebook page after shots were fired. “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running,” the club posted on its official Facebook page at 2:09 a.m. The Pulse describes itself as a gay friendly nightclub on its Facebook page.
The incident follows the fatal shooting on Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie,who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old St. Petersburg man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on “The Voice.”