8.30AM: | US President Barack Obama has declared the deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida as an “act of terror” and an “act of hate”.
President Obama spoke just hours after the horrifying shooting that left 50 people dead and 53 injured.
“Today as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, a horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people,” Obama said from the White House briefing room.
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“We pray for their families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand for the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city.”
“Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage and in resolve to defend our people.”
Obama acknowledged that it was an “especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing and to live.”
The gunman, who was shot dead by police, has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen.
Although ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, the motivation for the massacre remains unclear.
It is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
12.30AM | Fifty people have been confirmed dead following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
First reports suggested that 20 people had been shot and killed and another 42 shot and wounded, however, in a press conference only a short time ago, Orlando’s mayor confirmed those numbers were in fact much, much higher.
“Today we are dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable,” the mayor said.
“Since the last update, we have gotten better access to the building and it is with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties in addition to the shooter.”
“There are another 53 that are hospitalised.”
The death toll is expected to rise.
Earlier, the FBI declared the incident an act of terrorism.
The shooting is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
A State of Emergency has been declared in the City of Orlando.
9:30PM | Authorities have confirmed multiple people have been killed and at least 42 others have been wounded following an apparent terror attack on a nightclub in the United States.
At around 2AM local time on Sunday (4PM Sunday AEST), a sole gunman entered the gay Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, central Florida, and started firing shots into the crowd.
The Orlando Police Department a short time ago confirmed in a press conference that “multiple people” had been killed.
Police said there could be as many as 20 bodies still inside the nightclub, possibly even more.
A further 42 people were wounded and have been taken to various hospitals across the area.
Authorities confirmed the shooting then developed into a hostage situation.
A SWAT team stormed the club at around 5am local time after receiving messages from hostages and victims still trapped inside the building.
Officers conducted two controlled explosions in an effort to distract the shooter while they entered the building.
Heavily armed officers shot and killed the suspect and rescued upwards of 30 people.
Police said there were initial reports of 320 people inside the club at the time of the shooting.
The FBI has described the incident as an act of terrorism, whether domestic or foreign is yet to be determined.
8:00PM | Dozens of people have been shot following an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Details remain sketchy at this stage, however it’s understood a sole gunman stormed Pulse Nightclub at around 2am local time (4pm AEST) and opened fire.
The Orlando Police Department has described the shooting as a “mass casualty incident”.
There are reports that as many as 40 people may have been shot.
An unknown number of people have been killed.
The shooter claimed to be wearing a bomb and reportedly took several people hostage following the shooting.
Crisis negotiators were called in and at around 5am local time (7pm AEST) bomb squad officers conducted a controlled explosion at the scene.
A little under an hour later, around 5.53am local time (7.53pm AEST), the Orlando Police Department announced the shooter was dead.
Whether the shooter had in fact taken any hostages remains unclear.
The motive behind the attack also remains unclear.
A chilling post published on the Pulse nightclub Facebook page at the time of the shooting read: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
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