A state of emergency has been declared in Florida in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U-S history.
Emergency crews responded to Pulse Nightclub, a popular gay bar in Orlando, just after 2:00a.m. local time. Police say 50 people, including the gunman, have been killed and at least 53 people have been hurt and taken to area hospitals.
Mayor Dyer: 50 dead in Pulse nightclub shooting. @ChiefJohnMina Suspect had handgun and AR15 type rifle.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
Authorities say the gunman, Omar Saddiqui Mateen of Port St Lucie, Florida, was armed with an assault rifle, a handgun and some sort of suspicious device. Police say he was killed in a shootout with officers around 5:00a.m., when a SWAT team entered the club to rescue hostages. Authorities note Mateen called 911 during the attack to pledge alliegance to ISIS.
The FBI says they first became aware of Mateen in 2013 and was interviewed by authorities twice, but eventually concluded his case was inconclusive.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says police are investigating the incident as an act of terrorism, and are looking into whether it was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
President Obama Calls Shooting Act of Terror and Hate
U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday afternoon calling the mass shooting an act of terror and hate.
“We are still learning all the facts, this is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgement on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.”
Prime Minister Trudeau “Shocked and Saddened”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement offering his condolences to the the victim’s family and friends.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn today so many people have been killed and injured following a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is appalling that as many as 50 lives may have been lost to this domestic terror attack targeting the LGBTQ2 community.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our condolences and prayers to the families and friends of those lost today, and wish a full recovery to all those injured. We stand in solidarity with Orlando and the LGBTQ2 community.
“We grieve with our friends in the United States and Florida, and offer any assistance we can provide.”
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister condemned “the hatred behind this senseless act”
— Brian Pallister (@Brian_Pallister) June 12, 2016