A lone gunman entered an Orlando, Florida gay bar at around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday and opened fire with what police are calling an “assault-type” weapon. Three hours later, the Orlando SWAT team killed the gunman as he held several patrons hostage.
A suspected terrorist shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando has left at least 20 people dead, police have confirmed, adding that the attacker had been killed following a hostage situation at the club.
Shots were fired at the Pulse Club, in the early hours of Sunday. Staff at the venueposted on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running” and there were quickly reports on social media of an ongoing attack.
Orlando police said the shooting was being treated as an “act of domestic terrorism” and had resulted in mass casualties, urging people to stay away from the area.
Police said a number of people had been killed in the attack – in the “vicinity of 20” – but refused to give an exact death toll. They added that 42 people had been taken to hospital, including one police officer who had been shot in the head, but whose “life had been saved by his Kevlar helmet”. They confirmed the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, handgun and “some kind of device”.
In a press conference on Sunday morning, an FBI spokesman said investigators believed the attacker may have had extremist beliefs, and would consider possible links to Isis, but cautioned they were pursuing multiple leads.
An explosion was heard at the club at about 5am local time, which police said was a “distractionary device” used as part of the rescue mission to get to the hostages. The explosion caused some panic on the ground, which led to Orlando police tweeting to say it had been a “controlled explosion” and warning media about reporting inaccuracies.
The quick acknowledgement that this was a terrorist attack leads one to believe that the gunman is a “known wolf” terrorist. Indeed, it’s being reported that the unnamed gunman had made terrorist threats before.
Much more information to come and we will update this posting throughout the day.
Authorities are reporting at a live news conference that the death toll from the shooting is not 20, but 50 with 55 wounded.