(UPDATED as of 6:09 p.m. PH time) A lone gunman killed 50 people Sunday evening, June 12, (June 13 in Manila) at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in what authorities described as “the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11”, according to a CNN report.
The shooter was identified as Omar Sadiqqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida. He brought an assault rifle and a Pistol to Pulse Nightclub before shooting down 50 people and wounding at least 53 others, the report quoted Orlando police chief John Mina as saying.
Mateen took hostages inside the nightclub, as about 100 officers from the Orange County Sherriff’s Office and the Orlando Police Department approached the scene, the report said.
During the attack, Mateen called 911 to pledge loyalty to ISIS and recall the Boston Marathon attackers. There was a three-hour standoff before police broke into the building with an armored car and stun grenades to kill Mateen.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared, Mina said. Authorities added that Mateen did not appear to have any accomplices.
Following orders from President Barack Obama, Florida Governor Rick Scott put Orlando under a state of emergency.
The incident happened just two days after former YouTube sensation and “The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie was shot and killed by Kevin James Loibl at the Plaza Live.
On its website, the City of Orlando named eight victims from the nightclub shootings.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Kimberly Morris, 37
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Amanda Alvear, 25
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
“On this very difficult day, we offer heartfelt condolences to today’s victims and their families. Our City is working tirelessly to get as much information out to the families so they can begin the grieving process,” the city website said.
Pulse Nightclub owner Barbara Poma said that she was one with America in grieving for the 50 victims. “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today.”
“From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you,” Poma said.
Mayor Buddy Dyer said in an official statement:“This is probably the most difficult day in the history of Orlando.”
“Our community experienced a horrific crime today. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Despite the fact that the crime will have a lasting effect, we are a strong community,” he added.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
In an official statement, Obama called the shooting “an act of hate” and described the suspect as “a person filled with hatred.” “This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live,” said Obama. “So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country,” he added.