Orlando shooting: ‘Isil-allied’ Omar Mateen named as gunman who killed 50 in Pulse nightclub in America’s worst ever mass shooting.
The gunman was Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, an American citizen living in Port St. Lucie, Fla., federal law enforcement officials said.
The killer stormed the Pulse nightclub armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a handgun at about 2 a.m., while more than 300 people were inside dancing and drinking, said John Mina, the Orlando police chief. After the gunman began mowing down patrons, hundreds of others, some of them bleeding, fled down the darkened streets of the surrounding neighborhood.
The gunman holed up inside with dozens of people effectively held hostage, some of them hiding in a restroom frantically calling for help, until about 5 a.m., when a police SWAT team, using an armored vehicle and stun grenades, raided the building and killed him.
In that assault, an officer was wounded, his life saved by a Kevlar helmet that deflected a bullet, and at least 30 people were rescued, Chief Mina said. Some survivors escaped under cover of what the police called two “discretionary explosions.”.
Ronald Hopper, an assistant agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Tampa Division, raised the possibility that the killer was an Islamist radical, and law enforcement officials said they were investigating the massacre as a terrorist attack. The F.B.I. set up a hotline for tips.
“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology,” Agent Hopper said at a news conference. “But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around.”
Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement saying law enforcement officials told him that the gunman had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.
Federal law enforcement officials said they had found no indication so far that the attacker was linked to any wider organization, though they and the police were investigating several possible terrorism angles, both overseas and in the United States. Court records show that Mr. Mateen was born in New York, and had been married and divorced.
Past terrorist attacks, like the killing of 14 people in December in San Bernardino, Calif., were carried out in the name of Islam by people, many of them born and raised in the West, who were “self-radicalized.” They apparently had no direct ties to any organization, but were inspired by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
— ELIAS (@wtfelias) June 12, 2016
NBC reports that the gunman, Omar Mateen, rang 911 shortly before the killings started. He then pledged allegiance to “the leader of Isis,” said NBC, citing law enforcement sources.
Gunman’s father: “He saw two men kissing and he got very angry”
Jon Alamo told AP news agency he was at the back of one of the club’s rooms when a man holding a weapon came into the front of the room.
“I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,” Mr Alamo said. “The music stopped.” Rob Rick said it happened around, 2 am, just before closing time.”Everybody was drinking their last sip,” he said. He estimated more than 100 people were still inside when he heard shots, got on the ground and crawled toward a DJ booth. A bouncer knocked down a partition between the club area and an area in the back where only workers are allowed. People inside were able to then escape through the back of the club.
— WESH 2 News (@WESH) June 12, 2016