Editor's Note: Headline tweaked to reflect only the victims of this likely terrorist attack.
UPDATE: The shooter has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen from Fort Pierce, Florida. President Obama has also been briefed on the situation (via WaPo):
The suspected gunman was identified by relatives and law enforcement officials as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Fla. One relative said that Mateen’s family was in shock after being told on Sunday morning about his involvement. This relative said Mateen’s family was very sorry about what had happened.
Police have not identified a possible motive, and details about Mateen’s background were scarce on Sunday morning. His family is from Afghanistan, while Mateen is believed to have been born in the United States.
“It’s appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday-morning news conference, noting that the shooter had an “assault-type” weapon and a handgun.
The White House said President Obama was briefed on the incident Sunday.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” the White House said in a statement. “The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”
UPDATE II: Some sources are saying Mateen was from Port St. Lucie, Florida, which is right below Fort Pierce. CBS News says Mateen had no prior criminal history:
Sources have confirmed to CBS News that authorities are investigating whether the suspect, who has been named as Omar Mateen, had ties to Islamic terrorism. Mateen is a U.S. citizen with no apparent criminal history, according to sources.
Orlando Police chief John Mina was hesitant to provide an exact number of casualties early Sunday, while the situation was still being assessed.
UPDATE III: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says that 50 people have been killed (including the shooter), with another 53 in the hospital.
UPDATE IV: Worst mass shooting in U.S. history?
UPDATE V: Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN Sunday morning that he has learned the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack.
UPDATE VI: At a press conference in Orlando, Gov. Rick Scott told reporters that this tragedy is "clearly an act of terror."
"It's devastating," he said. Yet, he added Florida is a "resilient state."
UPDATE VII: A suspect armed with arsenal has been arrested at the Los Angeles gay pride parade, reports CNN. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the incident is unrelated to the Orlando shooting.
UPDATE: VIII: ISIS reportedly claims responsibility for Orlando shooting.
UPDATE IX: Be sure to read Cortney's write up of President Obama's speech, who said, “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.”
UPDATE X: President Obama confirms this is the deadliest shooting in American history, White House lowers flag to half-staff in memory of the victims of the shootings, which are being investigated as an act of terror.
In Orlando, Florida,
at least 20 people 49 people are dead and 53 were taken to the hospital after a gunman began to open fire at a gay nightclub (Pulse) around 2 a.m. this morning. Orlando Police Chief John Mina said that an officer did engage the gunman outside of the club, which devolved into a hostage situation. A special weapons and tactics team was deployed, and around 5 a.m. Chief Mina said a decision was made to rescue the hostages, around 30, who were still inside the club. The bomb squad was called in to denote two controlled explosions as a diversion. The gunman was shot and killed in that effort. The gunman was armed with a rifle, a handgun, and had some type of device on him. The FBI is now involved in what police are calling an “act of domestic terror” (via CNN):
Approximately 20 people are dead inside Pulse nightclub, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Sunday morning, just hours after a shooter opened fire in the club. At least 42 people have been transported for medical treatment, he said.
Police have shot and killed the gunman, Mina told reporters.
"It's appears he was organized and well-prepared," the chief said, adding that he had an assault-type weapon and a handgun.
Orlando authorities said they consider the violence an act of domestic terror. The FBI is involved.
The shooting began around 2 a.m., and an officer responded, Mina said. The officer engaged in a shoot out outside the club. The gunman then ran into the club.
"That turned into a hostage situation," Mina said. Authorities were getting calls from people inside the club but away from the gunman, the chief said.
More police rushed to the scene and broke down a door with an armored vehicle. At that point police shot and killed the gunman, Mina said.
USA Today reports that contrary to initial reports, there appears to be only one gunman.They also reiterated that this is considered a “domestic terror incident,” and “authorities are investigating whether the incident was the work of Islamic terrorism.” Concerning whether the gunman was inspired by Islamic terrorism, the FBI said, "we do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings toward that, that particular ideology. But right now we can't say definitively so we're still running everything around."
This is the second shooting in Orlando this weekend, with The Voice contestant Christina Grimmie being shot and killed yesterday by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl while signing autographs after a concert. Her brother tackled him, saving countless lives, according to police. Loibl committed suicide shortly thereafter. Motive is not known, but police did say the Loibl, a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, drove to Orlando specifically to kill Grimmie.