A heavily armed assailant opened fire in a packed nightclub early Sunday, killing 50 people in the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before he was killed in a hail of gunfire, authorities said.
In an article previously posted on USA College Today it was reported, Federal authorities identified the shooter as Omar Mateen, 29, a resident of St. Lucie, Fla., who worked for the security firm G4S.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said another 53 people were wounded at Pulse Orlando, a gay club just south of downtown.“Tonight our community witnessed a horrific crime… that will have a lasting effect on our community,” a solemn Dyer said.
President Obama called the massacre “an attack of terror and an attack of hate.”
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began unfolding at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged the suspect in a gun battle outside the club. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.
“Our biggest concern was further loss of life,” Mina said. “We exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and he was dead at the scene.”FBI Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the case was being investigated as a possible act of terrorism. It was not clear if the shooter acted alone, he said, adding that authorities were trying to determine if there was a connection with radical Islam. “We do have suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” Hopper said.
The suspect’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News on Sunday that he was shocked by the news, but that his son had recently expressed anti-gay sentiments. Seddique said the attack “had nothing to do with religion.”
Obama, in a brief speech to the nation, said the crime shows once again how easy it is for someone to get a weapon for use in a mass killing. He also expressed condolences to the families of the victims.
The shooting spree came just one day after The Voice star Christina Grimmie was shot and killed after a concert Friday night at the Plaza Live Theater in Orlando. That gunman, identified as Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Fla., fatally shot himself after the attack.
This article was previously posted in USA College Today.