50 Dead, 53 Injured In Orlando Gay Club Terrorist Attack

At least 50 people are dead and more than 53 others are wounded after a suspected terrorist opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday morning, police said.

Orlando police said a hostage situation developed after the gunman, who was identified by several law enforcement sources as Omar Mateen,
stormed the Pulse Nightclub about 2 a.m. Police added that at least 30 hostages were rescued from the club.

Staff at the venue posted on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running” and there were reports on social media of an ongoing attack.

Police confirmed the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, handgun and “some kind of device”. The shooting is being treated as an “act of domestic terrorism.”

In a press conference on Sunday morning, an FBI spokesman said investigators believed the attacker may have had extremist beliefs, and would consider possible links to Isis, but cautioned they were pursuing multiple leads.

“It was tragic,” club-goer Christopher Hansen said. “I wasn’t sure if it was the music, because … it went with the beat almost until you heard just too many shots.”

“It was just like — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang — and that’s when you just know chaos is just, it was in turmoil,” he added.

NBC News reports:

Mina Justice was outside the club trying to contact her 30-year-old son Eddie, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her: “He’s coming.”

“The next text said: ‘He has us, and he’s in here with us,'” she told The Associated Press. “That was the last conversation.”

Witness Anthony Torres posted to Facebook that he and his friends made it out of the club “just barely as we started to hear fire being shot.”

“They are just pulling people out in stretchers loading them up,” he said, referring to first responders. “Omg please god let everyone make it.”

“People are screaming that people are dead,” Torres wrote in another post.

The shooting at the nightclub comes during a series of national celebrations that mark LGBT pride month.

“As soon as we have any information we will update everyone,” the club later posted to Facebook. “Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love.”

County fire officials say Orlando has a “urgent need” for blood donations following mass shooting:

Equality Florida, Florida’s largest organization dedicated to securing justice for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the victims and families of the horrific shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. Please donate if you are able. Click here for more information.