Around 20 dead in mass shooting, ‘terrorist incident’ at Pulse gay club Orlando
Authorities have confirmed that a “mass casualty” shooting at a gay club in Orlando is being treated as a “terrorist incident” and has killed approximately 20 people.
The city, best known for the Disney theme parks is home to gay venue, the Pulse Club.
Police detonated a controlled explosion at the scene, which they described as a “distractionary device”. It was later confirmed that the gunman had died.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer described the crime as “horrific” at a press conference this morning.
An Orange County Sherriff described the incident as a “domestic terrorist incident”, which was confirmed by the FBI, who said: “Domestic or international, it’s terrorism”
It was confirmed that an officer attended the Pulse club and engaged with a “gun battle” with a shooter using an assault rifle and a pistol.
“This turned into a hostage situation. Multiple officers from various agencies responded. ” said police.
“We will take them to the ultimate end” said police of any possible accomplices in the shooting.
Police also said: “The shooter was organised and well prepared. He is not from this area”
Multiple officers from local, state and federal agencies responded to the incident at the club, where approximately 320 people were in attendance.
At approx 05:00 this morning the decision was made to rescue hostages after people phoned police from the toilets in the nightclub. The police drove a truck through the wall in order to distract the gunman.
One officer’s life was saved by his kevlar helmet during the gun battle.
The bomb squad did find a device at the scene.
While the police said the man was not from Orlando, they said they were “still trying to positively identify” him.
“In the range of 20” people were shot and killed in the club, and police said they saved approximately 30 people over the course of the incident.
The nightclub posted on its Facebook page as the shooting unfolded: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running”.
An eyewitness told WESH that he was in the hospital when they brought people in and that there was “blood everywhere”. The friend of someone in the club at the time of the shooting said that there were “bodies everywhere”.
Dozens of family members and friends were out in the street and at the hospital attempting to find out information on their loved ones.
The Orlando Police Department called for witnesses to come to speak with them, tweeting: “Anyone who was at Pulse nightclub and was a witness Please come to the Orlando Police HQ, 100 S. Hughey Ave.”
Adding: “Any information you have could aid investigators in this case.”
Despite no information being readily available on a motive of the shooter, a witness at the #Pulse #Orlando shooting said: “Wake up – we are just like you – why kill us?” … “just let us live”
“This happens every day – not only trans, not only LGBT – we all get killed every day – WHY? Because you’re afraid of what you don’t understand and you reject the unfamiliar.”
Police had previously tweeted that the situation is a “mass casualty” incident, and later confirmed that it was a “terrorist incident”.
Bomb squad and hazardous material team were on the scene. A controlled explosion was heard on the scene at around 05:08, local time, EDT.
Ricardo Negron Almodovar who was there posted: “Shooter opened fire @ around 2:00am. People on the dance floor and bar got down on the floor and some of us who were near the bar and back exit managed to go out through the outdoor area and just ran. I am safely home and hoping everyone gets home safely as well.”
He told Sky News: “People have definitely been injured – or worse.”
A second man, Anthony Torres, was heard shouting that others had died in the club.
(Photo: Brett Moots)
Video footage on social media has shown police and ambulance crews on the scene.
More footage showed dozens of shots being fired.
More from PinkNews
At 06:07, victims of the shooting were still being evacuated from the scene.
Homophobes have already praised the shooting.
Another Twitter user, @Jared17Smith, wrote: “I wonder how much of the splattered blood in #Pulse is HIV+”.
On Friday, The Voice star Christina Grimmie was shot dead by a fan at her concert. She was 22.
This is a breaking news story. More will follow on PinkNews.