In the early hours of Sunday morning, a lone gunman entered Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire killing 50 and injuring dozens more.
The shooter entered the venue at around 2AM local time on Sunday morning, June 12th, firing at the crowd that numbered over 100. At first, reports indicated that the gunman took people hostage and used a number of explosive devices inside the venue, with police warning to steer clear from the area. By 5am local time, Orlando police confirmed that the gunman had been killed.
Located in the city’s downtown area, Pulse is one of the most popular LGBT venues of the entire Orlando area. Police have confirmed that the gunman was Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce Florida. According to law enforcement, Mateen had an assault rifle, a handgun and other explosive devices on him when he was killed by police.
This is now the deadliest mass shooting in US history, overtaking Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, with 32 and 27 killed respectively.
It is also the second major shooting in Orlando to make international news over the weekend: on Friday night, 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie was killed as she was signing autographs after a concert. The gunman, 26-year-old Kevin James Loibl, then shot himself. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he had declared a state of emergency for the city and has requested the governor do the same for the state.
As of writing, the police are evidently considering this as an act of domestic terrorism due to the large amount of victims. Law enforcement are also not ruling out the possibility that this is a hate crime specifically targeted at the LGBT community.