Orlando, Florida:A nightclub here was the scene early Sunday of the worst terror attack in U.S. history since 9/11.
* 50 people were killed inside the Pulse club and at least 53 people were injured, police say.
* The gunman was Omar Mateen of Ft. Pierce, Florida, a law enforcement source told CNN.
* Orlando police shot and killed Mateen.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said early Sunday. The shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and “some type of (other) device on him.”There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack on jihadi forums, but ISIS sympathizers have reacted by praising the attack on pro-Islamic State forums.
Officials, aided by the FBI, warned that a lengthy investigation was ahead given the number of victims and the scope of the violence.”There’s blood everywhere,” U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson told reporters. “There’s an enormous amount of evidence to be collected.”It’s just shocking,” said Christopher Hansen, who was inside Pulse when he heard gunshots, “just one after another after another.”
“It could have lasted a whole song,” he said.
Hansen was getting a drink at the bar about 2 a.m. when he “just saw bodies going down.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he had declared a state of emergency for the city and has requested the governor do the same for the state.
Before Sunday, the deadliest shootings in U.S. history were at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, with 32 and 27 killed.
President Barack Obama was scheduled to make a statement about the attacks
The sound of gunshots echoed beyond the club.
Jose Torres was clocking in to work at a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street when he heard them.
“It was something that I never heard before,” Torres said. “I had to run inside the store, and I saw just a lot of people screaming, crying. Just screaming and coming out running like crazy.”
Torres said he ducked into the Dunkin’ Donuts and called 911 as several people dashed out of the club, bleeding. Police and SWAT teams rushed to the scene.
“They don’t let nobody in or out,” he said. “The SWAT team is inside there.”
Authorities have conducted a controlled explosion near the nightclub, according to Orlando police.
Tom Fuentes, a CNN law enforcement analyst, said controlled explosions are used to breach a door or when a subject is barricaded in a room and police want to use a stun grenade to temporarily freeze their central nervous system.
FBI agents were also assisting at the scene, agency spokeswoman Amy Pittman said. President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting and asked the FBI and other federal officials to provide him with regular updates, a statement said.