The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which was the site of one of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in recent history, was broken into overnight, NBC News reports.
According to Orlando Police, the popular gay nightclub was broken into by unknown men hours after police officials handed over the club to its owners, Rosario and Barbara Poma. Initial reports say that the club was handed over to the owners on Wednesday evening, after which they secured the club and went back home. The owners were reportedly inside the club until 2 p.m. on Thursday and once again visited the site at around 9:15 p.m. just to check if everything was okay.
It was around 3 a.m. in the morning that one of the employees at the club noticed that a vehicle gate and a privacy gate were open. By morning, the Pomas’ came to know that one of the doors leading to the club, which was also secured with plywood, was pried open.
At this time, it is unclear who the people behind the break-in were and what they were trying to access by breaking into the property. The owners confirmed that nothing was stolen from the club, with the damage estimated to be not worth more than $200. Local police officials have launched an investigation into the break-in.
We can confirm Pulse had a break in last night. Details will be in the report. Once it is finalized we will release. pic.twitter.com/fcLWDhsyB7
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) July 14, 2016
Officer John Ostrom, who has been entrusted with the investigation, wrote in a report, “As I examined the exterior of the east door, I saw where the suspect(s) had used a prying tool to force the plywood away from the screws that held it to the metal door frame. Once the plywood was removed the suspect(s) used the prying tool and forced their way into the business.”
The officer also added that there were signs that the burglars attempted to break in through another door as it was found partially loose.
Meanwhile, the owners have confirmed that while the nightclub does have an alarm and a closed circuit camera system, those were shut down on the day the incident occurred. A statement issued by the owners said that they were disappointed that some people were cruel enough to violate a space that was the scene of a horrific tragedy.
The statement further read, “Since June 12, we have seen the worst and best of human behavior. We are disappointed that someone felt compelled to violate the privacy of our beloved Pulse Night Club and the sacred place it has now become. We have faith in the Orlando Police Department and its’ investigation of this break-in. The club will continue to remain closed to the public as we work to plan the future of Pulse.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dwyer also tweeted about the incident and termed it “disturbing.”
Our community is still grieving. It’s disturbing that someone would try to bring additional pain to the victims. https://t.co/iQ3LAp8X60
— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) July 14, 2016
Senior police officers from Orlando had on Wednesday described the handing over of the club back to the owners as an “important milestone,” which they believed would help the community recover from the attack that left 49 people dead.
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) July 14, 2016
The Pulse Orlando shooting happened on June 12, 2016, when 29-year-old American security guard Omar Mateen walked into the club and started shooting at people. The shootout was followed by a three-hour standoff, at the end of which Omar was shot dead by police officers. The incident has been described as the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in U.S. history. It is also considered the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Investigations into the incident are still ongoing, with officers trying to find out what led Omar Mateen to open fire on people inside the club.
[Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP Images]