ORLANDO, FL – An Islamic State fighter, identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida, armed with an assault rifle and handgun, opened fire on patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. The popular Pulse dance club, located on Orange Avenue in the heart of Orlando was packed with more than 300 patrons when the attack came just after 2:00 a.m.
“Everyone get out of pulse and keep running,” read a post on the club’s Facebook Page as the shooting took place.
Fifty people were reported dead as the death toll rose from the morning – when 50 people were declared dead, with 53 more wounded- in what is being called the worst mass shooting on American soil. The cowardly massacre was exacted upon unarmed patrons of the dance club with no means of defense or recourse. The attack and standoff that went on for more than three hours ended with the gunman being shot and killed by law enforcement.
According to Reuters, the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency reported that the Islamist militant group was responsible for the worst mass shooting in the country, a Sunday morning shooting that killed at least 50 people in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting saw more than a third of the club’s 320 known patrons killed or wounded in the attack, that left the city of Orlando and country reeling in its aftermath.
“The armed attack that targeted a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” Amaq said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the county is concentrating its efforts on identifying those slain and notifying family members. A state of emergency was declared by Orange County and by the Governor in order to make resources available to law enforcement personnel and community.
“Every Possible asset we have brought to bear,” Dyer said. In a press conference, the mayor, visibly shaken said “There was blood everywhere.”
According to the Associated Press, Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News about his son seeing the men kissing a couple of months ago. “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique said. “We are in shock like the whole country. The attack had nothing to do with religion,”he said.
Seddique’s comments came before FBI sources confirmed that Mateen had been previously investigated for possible terrorist ties and the Islamic State took responsibility for the shooting. Mateen called 911, claiming allegiance to ISIS prior to the shooting.
Note: This report has been corrected to reflect that the number of dead had not risen to 59 as reported by WFTV earlier. The nine deceased were those who were transported to the hospital for treatment and succumbed to their injuries. Reports from multiple sources and the number of seriously injured contributed to the confusion.