According to multiple media outlets, a heavily armed assailant opened fire in a crowded Orlando nightclub early Sunday that left 20 people dead and at least 42 injured, some seriously. Survivors of the attack were rushed to area hospitals for emergency care.
From USA Today:
Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged in a gun battle with a suspect outside Pulse, a gay club just south of downtown. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.
“Our biggest concern was further loss of life,” Mina said. “We exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and he was dead at the scene.”
The shooter has since been identified as Omar Mateen, described as a “U.S. citizen,” which is intended to put to rest early concerns by the FBI that the shootings were an act of Islamic terrorism.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2016
Other conclusions jumped to early on focus on the fact that the night club is described is a gay hangout. This has prompted speculation that the shooter was a white Christian bible-thumping madman, even though, as Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw points out, “it’s not as if ISIS is particularly embracing of the gay lifestyle either,” adding, “It’s yet another lesson in why useless speculation before all the information comes in is counterproductive.”
This is a developing story. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.
*UPDATE*: Orlando Police have updated the death toll dramatically. The number of fatalities has been increased to 50 with 53 wounded, making the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
*SECOND UPDATE*: There is new information about the shooter, Omar Mateen. According to the Daily Beast, Mateen has been on the FBI radar in the past. His father, Mir Mateen, an immigrant from Afghanistan (where he is reportedly current running for public office) told reporters that the sight of two men kissing angered his son.
“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” the father added. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”
Mir Mateen hastened to add that the “has nothing to do with religion.” That claim was evidently good enough for the White House, which in its official statement made no mention of any religion, nor of the motivation for the killings.
— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) June 12, 2016