A horrific mass shooting that took place in the early morning hours at a gay nightclub in Orlando has left 50 people dead, and 53 wounded, according to widespread news reports.
Pulse nightclub is where the massacre occurred. The violence unfolded at 2 A.M. as a lone gunman armed with an assault rifle and possible explosives, exchanged gunfire with a police officer who was working at the club. At some point, the gunman ran inside the club, and began shooting people and taking hostages.
Police have identified the shooter, who was killed by police, as Omar Mateen–an American citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan. Reports indicate Mateen may have been an Islamic extremist, although Mateen’s father told news media the shooting “had nothing to do with religion”.
However, federal officials have been quoted as saying Mateen had been “on the radar” for “some time”.
The shocking death toll means the massacre is the worst mass shooting disaster in U.S. history.
As the shooting unfolded, the club’s Facebook page was updated with a cryptic message: “EVERYONE GET OUT OF PULSE AND KEEP RUNNING”.
Authorities are now working to identify victims and notify their families.
The investigation is ongoing.