On June 12, 2016, a mass shooting terrorist attack and hate crime occurred inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. Fifty people died, including the gunman, who was killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff. An additional 53 people were injured. It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The assailant was identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, an American citizen born to parents of Afghan background. Witnesses said he was a regular patron of the nightclub, and some said he had used gay dating websites in the past but the FBI has cast doubts on those reports. In a 9-1-1 call shortly after the attack began, he swore allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL). The Central Intelligence Agency said it found no links between ISIL and Mateen.
Forty-nine people have been killed and 53 injured in the Orlando night club shooting, the city mayor said during a press briefing. The shooting is the deadliest in recent US history.
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The Orlando attack was “the most deadly shooting in American history,” US President Barack Obama said.
“We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivation of the killer,” Obama told reporters at the White House around 2:00pm Eastern time. “What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred.”
: Orlando bloodbath: Multiple deaths after shooting rampage at gay nightclub
“Attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion´-or-sexual orientation, are an attack on all of us,” the president said.
“Will not change who we are,” Obama said. “We will not give into fear´-or-turn against each other. Instead, we’ll stand united as Americans.”
The process of removing the victims from the club continues, according to the Orange county sheriff. Some victims of the shooting are undergoing surgery with a number of them in critical condition, hospital officials told journalists during the briefing, Reuters reports.
Initially police announced that 50 people had been killed, apparently mistakenly counting Mateen as a victim.
"Today we re dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable," Dyer said. "It is with great sadness I share that we not have 20 but 50 casualties (dead), in addition to the shooter. There are another 53 ...hospitalized."
With 49 people dead, the Orlando shooting has become the deadliest massacre in US history, eclipsing the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University, which left 32 dead.
Both the Florida governor and the city of Orlando has declared a state of emergency following the deadly shooting.
: Orlando nightclub shooter ID d as US citizen Omar Mateen from Florida - report
The suspect behind the shooting has been identified as 29-year-old US citizen Omar Mateen, US media reported. The CBS network added that the FBI is currently checking whether he was linked to extremists.
The shooter was of Afghan descent and had weapons training, Peter King, US congressman and chairman of the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, told US media.
A police officer, who worked in the club as a security guard, was injured in the incident as he exchanged fire with the shooter at 02:00 local time (06:00 GMT), Reuters reports, citing police sources.
The attacker took hostages in the club, but three hours after the attack started a SWAT squad stormed the building and shot the gunman dead. It remains unclear when the attacker shot his victims. The shooter was carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
The gunman was also carrying an unidentified “device,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
Obama thanked the police and first responders for quick and courageous action that saved lives, and said that the full resources of the federal government would be made available for the investigation.
The FBI is still trying to establish whether the massacre was a hate crime´-or-a terrorist act.
Officials have characterized the attack as an act of terrorism and a hate crime. FBI special agent Ron Hopper called the attack both terrorism and a hate crime and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings classified the incident as domestic terrorism. City of Orlando Chief of Police John W. Mina said Mateen was organized, well prepared, and not from the local area. The FBI set up a hotline for callers with information on the shooting.
Officials said a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol were recovered from Mateen s body, along with additional rounds. Mateen and law enforcement fired a total of 202 rounds. A .38 Smith & Wesson revolver was recovered from Mateen s car-;- this gun was not used in the shooting. Autopsies of all 49 shooting victims were completed by the Orange County Medical Examiner s Office by June 14.
On June 13, FBI -dir-ector James Comey told reporters, "So far, we see no indication that this was a plot -dir-ected from outside the United States and we see no indication that he was part of any kind of network." He said the U.S. Intelligence Community was "highly confident that this killer was radicalized at least in part through the Internet", and that the investigation had found "strong indications of radicalization by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations". Comey also said the FBI will review its work and methods. When asked if anything could have´-or-should have been done differently in regard to Mateen,´-or-the FBI s intelligence and actions in relation to him, Comey replied, "So far, the honest answer is, I don t think so ".
U.S. officials said ISIL may have inspired Mateen without training, instructing,´-or-having a -dir-ect connection with him. Investigators have said no evidence linking Mateen to the group has emerged, and have cautioned that the attack may have been ISIL-inspired without being ISIL--dir-ected, as was the case in the December 2, 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California. Yoram Schweitzer of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies posited that Mateen associated the attack with ISIL to add notoriety, and said it was very unlikely that ISIL had known of him before the attack
Following the shooting, officers from multiple federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies (including the FBI, ATF, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, St. Lucie County Sheriff s Office, and Fort Pierce Police Department) converged on Mateen s home in Fort Pierce and another home in Port St. Lucie. A bomb squad checked Mateen s Fort Pierce home for explosives.
The shooting has been described as an example of soft target terrorism, which targets civilian locations that have minimal security
Senate Intelligence Committee member Angus King said Mateen s wife, Noor Salman, had "some knowledge" of Mateen s plans beforehand. Media reports, citing anonymous law enforcement officials, said Salman was with Mateen as he scouted possible Orlando-area targets (including the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Springs, and the Pulse nightclub) and that she was also with Mateen when he purchased ammunition and a holster in the months leading up to the attack.
On June 16, -dir-ector of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his agency was "unable to uncover any link" between Mateen and ISIL, calling the shooting a "lone wolf" attack.