At least 50 people are dead and another 53 have been wounded at a popular LGBT club in Orlando, Fla., after a gunman opened fire at the club just after 2 a.m., according toThe New York Times.
The single gunman, who police identified as Omar S. Mateen, was killed in a shootout with police around 5 a.m., according to CNN. Officials are treating the incident as a “terror incident,” and said the gunman was “well prepared,” armed with an “assault-style rifle, a handgun and possibly an explosive device,” according to the Times.
The shooting occurred at Pulse nightclub, one of Orlando’s largest gay bars, around 2 a.m. The club, which bills itself as “Orlando’s Latin hot spot,” was hosting its weekly “upscale Latin Saturdays,” according to The Times.
The Times spoke with Orlando Police Chief John Mina, who confirmed that there were at least 100 patrons inside the club when the gunman, who was not from the Orlando area, opened fire. The Times continued:
The shooting began inside the club, the chief said, and continued outside when an officer working at Pulse attempted to confront him. The gunman then ran back into the club, resumed shooting and took hostages.
At 5 a.m., Chief Mina said, the police decided to attempt a rescue, detonating two explosives to distract the gunman and to help clear the club.
“With that advantage,” the chief said, nine officers moved into the club to confront the gunman. In the ensuing shootout, one of the officers was slightly wounded, saved by his Kevlar helmet, the authorities said.
“We rescued about 30 people,” Chief Mina said. During the rescue and shootout, officers with the SWAT team — using an armored vehicle — entered the club and hurried people to safety. Many of them had sought shelter in other sections of the sprawling club.
Mateen's father told NBC News, "this has nothing to do with religion." Mir Seddique told NBC his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting.
"We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren't aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country," Seddique said.
According to NPR, public records list Mateen as living in Port St. Lucie, Fla, but other reports show him to be a resident of Fort Pierce. Mateen had a firearm license and he received a security officer license in both 2011 and 2013, according to NPR. Their records search did not turn up any criminal record.