Law enforcement agencies and media organizations are still looking for answers in the wake of the deadliest shooting in American history Sunday morning. Pulse Nightclub, an LGBT-specific club in Orlando, Fl., was the site of a shooting which began at 2am Sunday morning and seemingly resolved by SWAT, storming the club to rescue hostages and killing the shooter in the process, around 5am this morning.
50 fatalities have been reported along with at least 53 more injured. Reports suggest the shooter was found with a “device” on his person, a handgun, and an assault rifle. The Orlando Police Department, along with other agencies, are still working to identify the victims and collect evidence amidst a gruesome crime scene.
FBI officials immediately refer to the event as “domestic terrorism,” with Intelligence Committee members hinting at “some connection to ISIS.” In his address to the nation, President Obama referred to the attack as an act or “terror” and “hate.” Florida Governor Rick Scott stated, “this is clearly an act of terror.”
Law enforcement officials have confirmed the identity of the shooter as 29 year old Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a U.S. citizen born in New York who later moved to Florida with parents who were born in Afghanistan. Mateen had previously been on an FBI list as possibly an “ISIS sympathizer,” but little more information is available of the FBI’s knowledge, or lack thereof, of Mateen’s extremism. Omar’s father, Seddique Mateen, who is somewhat of a political personality on Afghan television, described an event where his son became furious and potentially violent after witnessing a gay couple kissing in public. Seddique himself has made statements on television expressing gratitude towards the Afghan Taliban.
Multiple law enforcement officials say that Omar Mateen called 911 right around the time the shooting began to swear allegiance to the Islamic State, and even reportedly mentioning the Boston Bombers. Mateen’s employer, G4S Secure Solutions, a security firm with contracts with the federal government and federal buildings, released a statement saying that he had been employed at the firm since September 10, 2007. The shooter had a security officer and firearms licenses, and legally purchased his firearms. The initial shootout began between the shooter and an off-duty officer armed and employed by the club for security.
Meanwhile, the initial Reddit live feed for the story became consumed with a debate over censorship after moderators removed comments identifying the shooter as Muslim or Islamic.
More questions remain. Why did the death count jump dramatically from 20 to 50 killed hours after the shooting? Was a suspect arrested with an arsenal of explosive powder, assault weapons, and camouflage at a Las Angeles gay pride festival connected to the Orlando shooting? Why were fatalities so high?
Update: ATF confirms the gunman legally purchased the Glock handgun and AR-15 long gun used in Sunday’s shooting.
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