The news we woke up to this Sunday morning is nothing less of horrific, as it appears Islamic terrorism has once again hit our homeland in a devastating way. Police have now upped the number of dead to 50, with dozens more injured, after a man opened fired in an Orlando nightclub last night.
Police say they are “leaning toward Islamic terrorism” as the motive, and the gunman has been identified as Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie. Mateen was born to Afghan parents in 1986.
As CBS reports:
A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun took hostages and opened fire inside a crowded Florida nightclub, killing approximately 20 people [Note: Police now say 50 have been killed] and wounding 42 others before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said Sunday.
Police Chief John Mina also said the shooter had some sort of “suspicious device.” He said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2 a.m., then went back inside and took hostages among more than 300 people inside.
Around 5 a.m., authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages, and the suspect then died in a gunfight with those officers. Mina said police have not determined an exact number of casualties, but that “approximately 20” people were dead inside the club.
Law enforcement sources told CBS News the gunman has been identified as Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie. Mateen was born to Afghan parents in 1986. CBS News reports Mateen has no apparent criminal history and that authorities are investigating whether he had ties to Islamic terrorism.
CBS News reports that authorities are “leaning towards Islamic terrorism” as a motive. Law enforcement sources said the shooting had similarities to the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels.
CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported the hostage standoff lasted for three hours.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said it was an act of “domestic terror.”
The Daily Mail reports:
The suspected Islamic extremist who killed about 20 people after taking party-goers hostage inside a gay club in Orlando has been identified.
Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter, who was wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, as US citizen Omar Mateen, from Port St. Lucie in Florida.
The gunman, who was born to Afghan parents, was carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he opened fire on the dance floor inside Pulse in the early hours of this morning.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said authorities have not determined the exact number of people killed, but that ‘approximately 20’ have died. Another 42 people were taken to hospital.
Police said the gunman, who was shot dead by officers, was believed to be in his 20s, while the FBI believe he may have ‘leanings to radical Islamic terrorism’.
We’ll bring you more details as they are available.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]