Orlando Gay Nightclub Mass Shooting Update: Suspect Identified, Death Toll Rises To 50, Dozens Injured

In the latest update in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, police confirmed the identity of the alleged gunman, but did not formally release his name. Ahead of the briefing, CNN and its law enforcement sources released the information the name of the shooter as Omar Saddiqui Matteen.

Fox News said the suspect is an American citizen and lived in St. Lucie County. The FBI said it would confirm prevailing reports at a later time after notification is made to next of kin.

He was killed in a gunfight with police after the hostage situation. Reportedly, the shooter has ties to Afghanistan and has weapons training. At this time, the motive in the gay nightclub shooting is unclear. Nonetheless, the Joint Terrorism Taskforce (JTT) is investigating for radical ties.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that the death toll has risen to 50 and with over another 50 injured. Dyer asked that Florida’s governor declared the mass shooting as a state of emergency.

Chief John Mina said the club has been cleared of any suspected explosive devices. He also asked for patience while the scene is processed and the deceased are identified. Mina also addressed the media earlier about the gunman.

“It’s appears he was organized and well-prepared.”

President Obama was briefed on the mass shooting in Orlando. The White House offered its condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the Florida shooting. The president also offered resources and the full force of his administration to help in the investigation, according to CNN‘s Jake Tapper during a live broadcast.

Juliette Kayyemm, Former Assistant Secretary, DHS, said the FBI is trying to determine if the shooter has any foreign ties to any overseas extremist groups with a larger plot. At this time during the “fog of” the incident, it’s too early to determine motivation.

“There are infinite numbers of soft targets,” and a Pulse is a good sight for anyone wanting to inflict harm and confusion on a large and unsuspecting group, Kayuyemm said, who added that security was likely novice in scope and preparation for such a horrific event.

Christopher Hansen, a newcomer to Florida, spoke to local reporters about the chaos in the venue. Hansen, who only established residency mere months ago, say he was here to have a good time, but experienced a “scene from a horror movie.”

Hansen heard what sounded like gunshots, but, like other club goers, thought the noise was part of the DJ’s music. However, it soon became apparent the club was under attack as many people began fleeing and bodies began dropping.

Hansen was near the exit and VIP section of the nightclub when the shooting began. He managed to crawl to safety and took refuge in the parking lot. There, he tended to victims, but still heard “bullets going off” inside. He never saw the shooter, but in his opinion, he thinks there were multiple gunmen due to the large number of gunshots fired over a long period of time — “at least the length of a whole song.”

Investigators investigating the Pulse shooting as a domestic act of terrorism say the shooter was armed with assault rifles and a large supply of ammunition. It’s unclear if he acted alone or there are other shooters or accomplices on the loose.

The shooting took place at 2:00 a.m., when the club was at its peak. Another witness, Ricardo Negron Almodovar, who “barely escaped” the carnage, described the scene.

“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.”

This story is developing.

[Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]

Share this article: Orlando Gay Nightclub Mass Shooting Update: Suspect Identified, Death Toll Rises To 50, Dozens Injured
More from Inquisitr