Orlando Nightclub Massacre: Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History Leaves At Least 50 Dead, 53 Wounded

Orlando Nightclub Shooting 50 Dead
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

UPDATED: In an act of domestic terrorism that ranks as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, at least 50 people were killed and 53 others wounded after a gunman opened fire in a popular Orlando, Fla., nightclub early Sunday morning.

The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a U.S. citizen born in 1986 to Afghan parents who lived in Port St. Lucie, about 130 miles south of Orlando. The gunman died at the scene in a shootout with police.

“We had a crime that will have a lasting effect on our community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer at a press conference. “We need to stand strong. We need to be supportive of the victims and their families.”

Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, said his son had been angered when he recently saw two men kissing in Miami.

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” his father told NBC News. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country. This had nothing to do with religion.”

Mateen was said to have been known to law enforcement officials, but the FBI closed its 2013 and 2014  investigations into his activities when it did not find anything that warranted further investigation.

According to NBC News, Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS just before the attacks.

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The death toll from the Pulse shootings surpasses the previous high of 33 dead in 2007 when a gunman went on a rampage at Virginia Tech college. A mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. last December left 14 dead and 21 wounded, while the 2013 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left 28 people dead and one injured.

In November, a coordinated series of attacks in Paris, including slayings at the packed Bataclan nightclub during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal, left 130 people dead, jolting the world as a brazen act of terror.

The shooting in Orlando began at roughly 2 a.m. ET on Sunday at Pulse, a gay bar, before escalating into a hostage situation that lasted until around 5 a.m. when police entered the club.

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Police shot and killed the gunman, who used an assault weapon, a handgun, and an unidentified device.  As the shooting began, Pulse posted on its Facebook page, “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

One Orlando police officer was shot during the exchange of gunfire but was likely saved from death by his helmet, officials said. Police said they were looking into reports that the gunman may have had radical Islamist beliefs.

“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Ron Hopper told media outlets. “But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything to ground.”

Authorities said that the shooting is not connected to the murder of  Christina Grimmie, a former contestant on “The Voice,” who was shot Friday night after performing a concert in Orlando. It is an active, ongoing investigation, but officials say that this appears to be an isolated incident.

The scene outside the three hospitals where the Pulse shooting victims were taken was frenzied, as people crowded around looking for family and friends believed to have been in the nightclub on Saturday night.

An eye witness interviewed by CBS News said that the club had themed nights and Saturday was “Latino” night.

Police urged anyone who was at the club on Saturday or those with information about the shooting to come forward and assist the investigation.

Local officials also put out an urgent call for blood donations to help the 53 victims. Within hours, local media showed pictures of long lines outside of blood donation centers.

GLAAD issued a statement about the shooting later on Sunday: “Our hearts are broken for the victims and families of the horrific tragedy in Orlando,” said GLAAD president & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This unimaginable atrocity has not only robbed countless people of their loved ones, it has also stolen a sense of safety within the LGBTQ community. As we mourn the victims of this unspeakable attack, we are also reminded that the work to end hate in all its forms must continue.”

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  1. D d says:

    1. East St. Louis Race Riot: 1917. It is estimated that 200 to 700 people were killed

    2. Arkansas Massacre of 1919. Estimated 237 to 800 people were lynched, beaten and murdered:

    3. Tulsa Massacre 1921. Estimated 300 black people and over were murdered:

    Rosewood Massacre, 1923 40 to 150 being murdered.

  2. xyshiobkp says:

    THE LARGEST MASS SHOOTING IN US HISTORY HAPPENED December 29,1890. When 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents & members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection”. The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. The Calvary began shooting, and managed to wipe out the entire camp. 200 of the 297 victims were women and children.

  3. Another Muslim terrorist the Government knew about but did nothing.

  4. Muslims around the world are rejoicing this shooting.
    ISIS is calling it a proud day.
    On 9/11, I saw a photo of two Arab boys smiling and pointing at the ruins of the Twin Towers.
    Muslims chant “Death to America” in their streets.
    Now, while this gunman was born American, he is still a Muslim who sided with ISIS.
    Obama and Hillary want to bring in more Muslims, many of them refugees.
    Knowing the Muslim agenda, that is insane.
    We as Americans must get angry and stand up to this.
    We are losing our country and our way of life because of terrorists all of whom are Muslims and weak leaders who do not have the guts to stand up for America.
    I am not a racist.
    I’m just telling the truth.
    Enough is enough.
    If we don’t turn things around and quick, we are doomed as a nation.
    That is obvious.

    George Vreeland Hill

  5. frank says:

    I disagree. We mass shot over 150 Native Americans at Wounded Knee. That is part of U.S. history. The Mormons mass shot 100 immigrants in 1857, that is part of U.S. history.

  6. Frosty Carver says:

    Sad, very SAD, yes BUT………………..NOT THE DEADLIEST MASS SHOOTING IN THE US…………..NOT EVEN CLOSE………LETS TRY WOUNDED KNEE WHERE THE US GOVERNMENT ASSASSINATED BETWEEN 150-300 LAKOTA MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN AND INFANTS……..AND THEN DUMPED THE DEAD & HALF-DEAD INTO A MASS GRAVE!! I WISH THE MEDIA WOULD STOP SAYING THAT PHRASE!!

  7. Pam says:

    The insanity of this new “Normal” in America, hell the World, has got to come to some kind of end. Thank you Sara at Gladd for speaking out. There are so many forums at a global capacity to educate the world into peaceful resolutions for the children of today hopefully. Many loving thoughts to the families, friends and all who are touched beyond words with pain and suffering.

  8. sandy says:

    you can thank Obama for causing this! he insists on bringing in more muslims says they are peaceful really? MUSLIMS HATE GAYS FOLKS! so now they are saying we need to get rid of our guns? what is wrong with the left? these savages would be killing all of us every second if we didn’t have guns. then they would take over our country!

  9. P.Lazaro says:

    Appalling! Guns, Guns, Guns, we need to go there and we need to go over the law. Too many sons and daughters are dying for our right to bear arms. Enough and enough hate & homophobia. Very sad day.

    • BillUSA says:

      We need to go over the enforcement of existing laws first. What good is revisiting and possibly enacting new gun laws when the ones we already have are being ignored?

    • Alex says:

      Is ISIS appalling? He may have been connected.

  10. Mike says:

    What an awful thing to wake up to. Thoughts to all the victims and their families. It will need to be clear where the assault weapon came from. I would imagine the right will further push the idea that regular people need to arm themselves, and maybe there is a bit of truth to that. One thing that is clear is that none of us know how to react when these things happen…if people attacked the shooter, it would def limit the amount of damage, but it’s just not intuitive to do so. Also, the police may need to engage much quicker if these “hostage” situations just result in more casualties while the police wait outside. A truly terrible thing for everyone to think about.

  11. Alex says:

    Are the powers that be in Washington and in the MSM going to call this an act of terror?

    • Keep Your Hate to Yourself says:

      You wrote this at 6:32 am, an hour and a half after the hostage crisis ended, before the names of the dead had even been released. This is what you wrote in response to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. You are a sad, small minded person.

      • Alex says:

        I typed this from N.Y. where it was 9:32 EST, THAT time over my post is California time. Please shut up.

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