From The Daily Mail
‘Islamic extremist’ Omar Mateen, 29, from Florida, shoots dead at least 50 at Florida gay club after bursting in ‘wearing a suicide vest’ and taking hostages – injuring a further 53 – before he is killed
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Suspected Islamic extremist opened fire inside Pulse gay club in Orlando in the early hours of this morning
- Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter as US citizen Omar Mateen, from Port St. Lucie in Florida
- He killed at least 50 people and injured 53 and took party-goers hostage before being killed by police
- Shooter, believed to be in his 20s, was carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he attacked
- Police used an explosive device to distract the gunman and rescue around 30 people who had been taken hostage
- Police engaged in gunfire with the man and an officer was shot in the head, but he was saved by his helmet
- FBI says gunman may have ‘leanings to radical Islamic terrorism’ and it is being investigated as ‘an act of terrorism’
- Took place four miles from where The Voice singer Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot dead at The Plaza Live on Friday
The suspected Islamic extremist who killed about 50 people after taking party-goers hostage inside a gay club in Orlando has been identified.
Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter, who was wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, as US citizen Omar Mateen, from Port St. Lucie in Florida.
The gunman, who was born to Afghan parents, was carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he opened fire on the dance floor inside Pulse in the early hours of this morning.
At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism, adding that they are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
Police said the gunman, who was shot dead by officers, was believed to be in his 20s, while the FBI believe he may have ‘leanings to radical Islamic terrorism’.
The killings took place less than four miles from where The Voice singer and YouTube star Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot dead at The Plaza Live in Orlando on Friday.
Scroll down for video
Attack: A woman sits on the ground outside the club while another party-goer, whose legs are covered in blood, stands beside her
Response: Emergency services are pictured at the scene outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida following this morning’s shooting
Distraught: A woman sits outside the nightclub following the mass shooting. Around 50 people were killed by the suspected gunman
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during following the shooting at Pulse nightclub
Demetrice Naulings (left) sobs outside the Orlando Police Headquarters where police are interviewing witnesses. Right: People wait outside the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after the shooting at Pulse gay club
Friends and family members embrace outside Orlando Police Headquarters following the deadly shooting in the early hours of this morning
SWAT: Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT members arrive at the scene of the fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando
Fatalities: At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting. Pictured: An Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT member
Police, army and FBI surround the club after a suspected Islamic extremist wielding an assault rifle and a handgun killed about 50 people
An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Pictured: Forensics at the scene of the shooting
Writing on Facebook, Pulse, which described itself as the most prominent gay club in Orlando, urged party-goers to ‘get out and keep running’ as bullets started flying at around 2am local time.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2am, then went back inside and took hostages. There were about 320 people inside the club at the time of the shootings and about 100 people were taken hostage.
At around 5am authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages. Nine hero officers used a ‘controlled explosion’ to distract the shooter before fatally shooting him and were able to rescue about 30 hostages who were hiding in the bathroom of the club.
During the gunfire, an officer was shot, but he was saved by his helmet. It was thought that at least one hostage had been locked in a bathroom with gunshot wounds.
Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a press conference: ‘Many were saved by the heroic efforts of the men and women of the OPD, the Orange County Sheriffs, Seminal County Sheriff’s office.’
At around 6am local time police tweeted: ‘Pulse Shooting: The shooter inside the club is dead.’
Twitter accounts which claim to be affiliated to the Islamic State have hailed the shooting, although DailyMail.com cannot confirm whether the terror group was behind the attack.
Jon Alamo said he was inside the club, which was hosting a Latin-themed night when a man holding a weapon entered the room he was in.
‘I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,’ Alamo said. ‘The music stopped.’
Club-goer Rob Rick said it happened just before closing time. ‘Everybody was drinking their last sip,’ he said.
Help: People carry an injured person from the nightclub after the gunman opened fire. In total, 42 people were taken to hospital