“The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance, to sing..and to live.”
Barely 48 hours after YouTube star Christina Grimmie was shot dead at a concert in Orlando, a gunman opened fire in a club, killing at least 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in US history before being shot dead by police.
As seen in the Google Maps screenshot above, the Pulse Orlando shooting happened only a few miles away from The Plaza Live theatre where Christina Grimmie was killed.
Authorities have identified the shooter as Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, who was born in 1986 in New York. The 29-year-old US citizen, armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun, opened fire in Pulse Orlando (“the hottest gay bar” in the heart of Orlando) shortly after 2am on Sunday (12th June) morning.
At that time, Pulse Orlando was hosting more than 300 patrons as partygoers were attending the club’s “Latin Flavour” event on Saturday (11th June) night.
One of the partygoers, Christopher Hansen, said that he was getting a drink at the bar about 2am when he saw bodies going down. He heard gunshots, “just one after another after another”, that went on for so long that the shooting “could have lasted a whole song”.
Omar then exchanged shots with the police before taking dozens of people hostage. After a nearly 3-hour standoff, police stormed the building and killed the shooter.
Pulse shooting: In hail of gunfire in which suspect was killed, OPD officer was hit. Kevlar helmet saved his life. pic.twitter.com/MAb0jGi7r4
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
Mayor Buddy Dyer confirmed that 39 people and Omar were pronounced dead at the scene, with 2 bodies found in the parking lot. 11 people were taken to hospitals and pronounced dead there.
The shooting has been classified as an incident of domestic terrorism. “This is clearly an act of terror. For somebody to go in there and be an active shooter, and take that number of lives … and injure that many people is clearly an act of terror,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott told reporters.
Before the Pulse Orlando shooting, the deadliest shooting in US history were at Virginia Tech in 2007, when 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on campus before taking his own life, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old, as well as 6 adult staff members before killing himself.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016ADVERTISEMENT
Omar’s intentions are not immediately known, but Omar’s parents, who are from Afghanistan, said he’d expressed outrage after seeing 2 men kiss in Miami. However, they didn’t consider him particularly religious and didn’t know of any connection he had to ISIS.
The FBI has now taken the lead on the investigation.