The recent Pulse nightclub mass shooting has been dubbed the deadliest in U.S. History. Authorities have reported that 50 people were killed in the incident and another 53 were wounded. Police have identified the terrorist behind the attack as Omar Siddiqui Mateen.
For almost three hours, the nightclub turned into a hostage playground for Mateen, during which time he killed almost 50 people inside the gay club. The shooting began at around 2 a.m. The situation was brought under control after the police intervened and shot Mateen down. After he was shot dead, frightened clubbers rushed out, helping the wounded and trying to reach their families and friends. Orlando Police Chief John Mina had initially estimated a death toll of 20, but the final figures turned out to be much more grim. Orlando Police has created a hotline for the families of those killed or injured in the incident. Florida Department of Law Enforcement has already declared the incident as an act of terrorism, but has been hesitant in choosing between the terms domestic terrorism or international terrorism.
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) June 12, 2016
Our focus right now is on identifying the many victims in this tragedy and notifying their family members. Hotline 4 family: 407-246-4357.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
The suspect, who was shot dead in the shootout, Omar Siddiqui Mateen, was a U.S. citizen living in Port St. Lucie, Florida. According to ABC News reports, Mateen is said to have been “on the radar” of U.S. officials, even though he was not part of any major investigation. He was thought to have been leaning towards Islamic extremism. An FBI assistant agent, Ron Hopper, commented on Omar.
“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology. But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around.”
Omar’s father, Mir Seddiqui, made a statement claiming that the incident had nothing to do with religious extremism. He suggested that Omar’s actions may have been directed by homophobia. He claimed that Omar had been angry since seeing two gay men kiss in public last month. Mir Seddiqui made a statement apologizing for the incident.
“We apologize for not being able to stop this whole incident. We had no idea that he was going to do something as such. We too are in shock like the rest of the country.”
Omar Mateen worked as a security guard in Fort Pierce, Fla. He rented a car and traveled to Orlando to carry out #PulseNightclubShooting
— Evan Pérez (@evanperez) June 12, 2016
An eyewitness, Rosie Feba, gave her account of the incident to the Orlando Sentinel.
“Everyone was getting on the floor. I told her [girlfriend] I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.”
Another eyewitness, Javer Antonetti, said the following.
“There were so many (shots), at least 40… I saw two guys and it was constant, like ‘pow, pow, pow,’.”
The official statement from the White House reports that President Obama has directed the federal government to provide all necessary assistance to pursue the investigation. President Obama has since made an official statement himself.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has also announced that the state will “devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando.”
With this big a death toll, this is undoubtedly the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History. The shootout has also been called the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.