Authorities are treating a mass shooting in Florida gay night club ‘Pulse’ as a domestic terror act.
The mayor of Orlando reported 50 people are dead, including the shooter who was shot by Orlando police, and at least 53 people are injured. The shooter has been named as Omar Mateen, 29, a security guard from Port Lucie, a town about 100 kilometres south-east of Orlando.
The Orlando Police chief, John Mina, told reporters that the shooting is being treated as a terror act because it “appears he was organized and well-prepared”. Mr Mina said Mateen was armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, a handgun and “some type of (other) device”.
The shooting broke out at 2am (US Eastern time) on Sunday, June 12. Mateen apparently shot his way into the club – two bodies were found outside after he began his rampage inside. It is understood a police officer stationed in the area may have shot at Mateen as he entered.
“This did turn into a hostage situation,” Mr Mina said. “At approximately 05:00 hours (09:00 GMT) this morning, the decision was made to rescue hostages that were in there.”
Police had arrived on the scene soon after the incident began; they had received multiple calls from people trapped inside the venue. After a three-hour stand-off police broke into the club, allowing 30 people to escape to safety. It was at that point, Mr Mina said, police killed the 29-year-old gunman. One policeman was shot by Mateen but was saved by his kevlar helmet.
Videos of the shooting posted on social media show what a truly harrowing experience it was for the victims.
“I just fell down and crawled out,” he said. “People were trying to escape out the back of the club.
“I helped someone who was on the ground. I wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive. I was like ‘hey are you OK?'”
Mateen appears to have acted as a “lone wolf” attacker and authorities have said that there is no suggestion related attacks ar imminent in Florida or anywhere else in the US. – Jessica Holmes
Top photo from Orlando Police’s Twitter account.