Monday, June 24, 2024

Orlando Pulse club attack: gunman identified as police investigate motive

Gunman who opened fire with assault rifle, and equipped with suspicious device, reportedly a 29-year-old US citizen

The gunman behind a suspected terrorist attack that killed 50 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando is believed to be Omar Mateen, 29, from Florida, a US citizen of Afghan heritage.

The gunman opened fire at the Pulse Club in the early hours of Sunday, taking hostages, killing many and injuring 53. Raising the alarm in the early hours of Sunday morning, staff at the venue posted on Facebook: Everyone get out of pulse and keep running. .

Orlando confirmed police said the shooting was being treated as an act of domestic terrorism. The FBI said it had a positive identification of the shooter but it was not releasing a name as it was in the process of notifying his family.

The gunman was killed during a shootout with police as they broke into the nightclub to rescue 30 people held hostage there. No motive for the attack has been offered by police. The Guardian has not been able to independently verify the identity of the shooter.

Police initially said about 20 people had been killed and 42 injured in the attack, but later revised the toll up to 50 dead and 53 hospitalised, the latter including one police officer who had been shot in the head and whose life had been saved by his Kevlar helmet. They said the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, handgun and some kind of device.

At a press conference on Sunday morning, an FBI spokesman said investigators believed the attacker may have had extremist beliefs, but cautioned that they were pursuing multiple leads.

Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016

Shooting at Pulse Nightclub on S Orange. Multiple injuries. Stay away from area.

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 the media about reporting inaccuracies.

Police said the incident began at 2am when the gunman started firing and an officer on duty at the club exchanged shots with him. They said it then descended into a hostage situation. The situation was resolved three hours later when a Swat team stormed the nightclub after receiving messages from club patrons who were hiding in the club while the gunman was still at large.

A little after 0500 hours we made a decision to go in and conduct a rescue. We were being contacted by people in the bathroom, about 15 people. Our biggest concern was future loss of life, said John Mina, the chief of police.

Several explosives and an armoured vehicle were used to break through a wall of the nightclub and rescue approximately 30 hostages. The suspect was shot by a police officer during this intervention.

Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016

We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation. Support from local/state/federal agencies. We expect to brief media shortly.

Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016

Pulse Shooting: The shooter inside the club is dead.

Police said several suspicious devices were found in and around the nightclub, including one on the gunman and one on his car.

This is an incident, as I see it, that we can definitely classify as a domestic terrorism incident, said the Orange County sheriff, Jerry Demings.

When asked whether the suspect was thought to have any affiliation with Islamic State, the FBI assistant agent in charge, Ron Hopper, said: We do have suspicions that the individual may have leanings toward that ideology. When pushed as to what led him to believe that, he clarified that all possibilities were being investigated.

Earlier in the evening one witness told Sky News there had been more than 100 people inside the venue for the clubs Latin night when the gunman entered the building and began firing into the ceiling and into the crowd.

Richard Negroni said: We just heard shots, it was less than a minute, it felt longer. There was a brief pause and we just ran. Everybody was just faces to the floor. I had someone over me, I really didnt see [how many gunmen there were]. All I can tell you was the club was packed, there were over 100 people there, if the gunman came in through the front door people were injured or worse.

In a Facebook post, Negroni wrote that the shooter opened fire at about 2am and people on the dancefloor and bar got down on the floor. He said some people near the bar and back exit managed to escape quickly.

Pulse nightclub, Orlando, Florida
Pulse nightclub, Orlando, Florida

Mina Justice told the Associated Press that her 30-year-old son Eddie, who was in the club when the attack took place, texted her asking her to call the police. Justice said Eddie had run into a bathroom to hide. He then texted her: Hes coming.

The next text said: He has us, and hes in here with us, she said. That was the last conversation.

Orlandos mayor, Buddy Dyer, praised the efforts of law enforcement agencies, saying that many were saved by [their] heroic efforts.We had a crime that will have a lasting effect, we need to stand strong, we need to support victims and their families, he said.

The scene of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Photograph: EPA

Family members were waiting throughout the morning to hear about the safety of their loved ones. Many of the injured were brought to the Orlando regional medical center (ORMC) located close to the nightclub, and they announced in the early hours of the morning that they were in lockdown and admitting entry only to essential workers. They have since instructed those who believe their family might have been brought there to come to the family meeting area at the hospital.

Staff at the club posted a message on Facebook thanking people for their concern during the nights tragic event.

As soon as we have any information we will update everyone, read the Facebook statement. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love.

Witnesses describe Pulse nightclub terror shooting

Read more:

Author: Red

Related Articles


Latest Articles