UPDATE: Death toll rises from 20 to 50 victims.
— Katie Kim (@KatieKimNBC) June 12, 2016
A Muslim terrorist has killed 50 people and injured 53 during a massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida early this morning. Details are still coming forth and the story is still developing:
A suspected Islamic extremist wielding an assault rifle and a handgun has killed about 20 people after taking party-goers hostage inside a gay club in Orlando.
The gunman was carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he opened fire on the dance floor inside Pulse in the early hours of this morning.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said authorities have not determined the exact number of people killed, but that ‘approximately 20’ have died. Another 42 people were taken to hospital.
An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism, adding that they are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
Police said the gunman, who was shot dead by officers, was believed to be in his 20s was not a local man, while the FBI believe he may have ‘leanings to radical Islamic terrorism’.
The killings took place less than four miles from where The Voice singer and YouTube star Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot dead at The Plaza Live in Orlando on Friday.
Writing on Facebook, Pulse urged party-goers to ‘get out and keep running’ as bullets started flying at around 2am local time.
Here is a video from the gunfight:
At around 5am authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages. Police used an explosive device to distract the hostage taker and rescue around 30 people.
During the gunfire, an officer was shot, but he was saved by his helmet, and the gunman was killed. It was thought that at least one hostage had been locked in a bathroom with gunshot wounds.
At around 6am local time police tweeted: ‘Pulse Shooting: The shooter inside the club is dead.’
Jon Alamo said he was inside the club, which was hosting a Latin-themed night, when a man holding a weapon entered the room he was in.
‘I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,’ Alamo said. ‘The music stopped.’
Club-goer Rob Rick said it happened just before closing time. ‘Everybody was drinking their last sip,’ he said.
Read more: Daily Mail
According to Click Orlando:
“Everybody was just running out through the back (of the club),” a witness told News 6.
A clubgoer said that he saw one person holding what he called an assault rifle and firing rounds inside Pulse. Police said the gunman had an assault-type rifle, a handgun and some sort of device strapped to himself.
Another clubgoer said he heard at least 40 shots fired. Another witness said about 100 rounds were fired.
“I saw blood everywhere,” another clubgoer said.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said an officer in full uniform was working extra duty at the club and heard reports of shots fired. He engaged the shooter, who went back inside the club and created a hostage situation, Mina said.
About three hours later, Mina said a decision was made to rescue the hostages, and the shooter was killed in a gunfight with officers.