A gunman opened fired at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, at around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, killing approximately 50 and injuring at least 53.
In a press conference this morning, Orlando Police Chief John Mina originally said that approximately 20 people had been killed with 42 injured, but both of those numbers were updated in a press conference held later this morning.
According to Mina, the suspect began shooting shortly after 2 a.m. An officer working at Pulse exchanged shots with the suspect outside the club. Following that exchange, the gunman went inside Pulse and opened fire. He subsequently held those remaining in the club hostage. Mina said that at approximately 5 a.m., authorities made the decision to enter the club, at which point SWAT teams exchanged further gunfire with the suspect and killed him.
Audio of that exchange appears to have been captured by witnesses outside the club:
In an interview with CNN Sunday afternoon, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that 39 victims were killed in the club, nine died en route to hospitals, and two died outside the club.
According to Mina, the gunman was carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, as well as a “type of device” that may have been explosive in nature. An FBI official said that the incident is being investigated as a form of terrorism. Authorities also stated that the man is not from the Orlando area.
Victims were taken to several local hospitals and triage units were established outside of the club. Per authorities, around 30 hostages were rescued from inside the club, a number of whom were barricaded inside a bathroom and communicating with police. Some of those hostages had been previously wounded.
Mina Justice was outside the club early Sunday trying to contact her 30-year-old son Eddie, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her: “He’s coming.”
“The next text said: ‘He has us, and he’s in here with us,’” she said. “That was the last conversation.”
Police responded to the scene just after 2 a.m. on Sunday, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The bomb squad and hazardous material teams were called to the scene after 3 a.m. On Facebook, Pulse staff warned partygoers to stay away.
“She told me someone was shooting. Everyone was getting on the floor,” Feba said. “I told her I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.”
Feba and her girlfriend ran out of the club. On the way out, they saw a man who had been shot.
Feba grabbed him. Others around her called 911. Some of the man’s blood stained the sleeve of her striped T-shirt.
I was there. Shooter opened fire @ around 2:00am. People on the dance floor and bar got down on the floor and some of us who were near the bar and back exit managed to go out through the outdoor area and just ran. I am safely home and hoping everyone gets home safely as well