Breaking coverage of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida
A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun took hostages and opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing approximately 50 before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said Sunday.
WHAT WE KNOW NOW ABOUT THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING (updated at 11:19 a.m., 6/16/2016)
Orlando Police Chief John Mina confirmed at a news conference Sunday morning that 50 people were killed. The massacre is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. On Monday, authorities clarified that total, saying the figure includes the shooter.
Omar Mateen, 29, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was behind the killings, according to the FBI. Mateen called 911 around 2 a.m. and declared his allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack, according to the New York Times, citing members of Congress briefed by local and federal law enforcement officials.
Police said Mateen walked onto the dance floor at Pulse at about 2 a.m.At about 5 a.m. Sunday, authorities tried to use an explosive device to blow a hole in the bathroom wall at Pulse. Police traded gunfire with Mateen, who was killed in the exchange.
President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Sunday afternoon. "We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate," Obama said, "as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people. On Thursday, June 16, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit with families of victims and first responders in Orlando.
In a press release Sunday, Gov. Rick Scott said, "We will devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando. Our state emergency operations center is also monitoring this tragic incident." Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency in Orange County on Sunday following the attack.
Orlando Police have urged anyone with information on the shooting to call the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALLFBI. The FBI is leading the investigation, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will continue to provide assistance with regional assets.
Tune in regularly for live coverage of Tampa Bay events, breaking news and Florida court trials. Participate in live chats with Tampa Bay Times experts about local sports and other topics, like cooking in our weekly #CookClub chats.