The death toll from the heinous massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando has risen. First accounts were that there were 20 people killed and 42 injured, but during a 10:15 a.m. press conference officials updated the death toll to 50 people killed and 53 injured. With 50 lives lost, the Orlando nightclub shooting becomes the worst mass shooting in United States history, eclipsing the Virginia Tech massacre where 32 people were killed on April 16, 2007.
“Today we’re dealing with something never imagined and is unimaginable, Mayor Buddy Dyer said Sunday at a press conference. “It is with great sadness that I share we have not 20, but 50 casualties.” The mayor added that “there is blood everywhere.”
There was a hostage situation in the crowded Orlando gay nightclub followed by gunfire sprayed early Sunday morning. The horrific slaughter is being characterized as an act of terrorism.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the shooter had an assault-style rifle, a handgun and “some type of device.” Mina added, “It appears he was organized and well-prepared.” Law enforcement sources told CBS News that the shooter was Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie, Florida.
A FBI agent from the Orlando field office said there are “suggestions” that the suspect may have had “leanings” toward radical Islamic ideology. “We can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything to ground,” he added.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that Mateen is believed to be from Afghanistan and is “trained in the use of weapons.”
U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson said it was “no coincidence” the attack happened in a gay club and it was probably an “awful hate crime.”
President Obama has been briefed on the attack, and the White House released a statement.
Also during the press conference, the leader of the Islamic Society of Central Florida urged the media to avoid “rushing to judgment.”
Of the 53 injured, the hospital said that many are “critically ill.”
Florida’s Governor has declared a state of emergency and the city of Orlando has also declared state of emergency.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer updated the status of the mass shooting on his Twitter.
The Orlando Police are asking witnesses with any information to step forward.
Press conferences by the authorities in Orlando will be done every three hours with the next one happening at 1:30 p.m. EST. We will have updates when they are presented.
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