Mass Murder at Orlando Nightclub Investigated as Domestic Terrorism

By Chris Ariens 

A mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando is being investigated as domestic terrorism. The gunman, armed with an assault-style weapon, stormed the club around 2 a.m. Over the next three hours, the incident turned into a hostage situation. Around 5 a.m. the Orlando SWAT team went in and killed the suspect, who was known by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, but has yet to be identified. Update: the killer is Omar Mateen. Around 3 a.m. Pulse Nightclub posted on its Facebook page:


Cable news began coverage around 4 am., with CNN International, simulcast on CNN, beginning coverage at 4:16 a.m. MSNBC and Fox News broke in at 4:30 a.m. Early reports put the death toll at 20. But at a 10 a.m. news conference Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that there were 50 casualties and another 50 wounded. The SWAT team freed another 30 hostages by the time it was all over. It was the club’s weekly Latin night. Local news crews caught up with a man who was in the club. Christopher Hansen moved from Ohio two months ago, it was his first time at the bar.

ChristopherHansen “I was helping somebody because he was laying down. I wasn’t sure if he was dead alive. He didn’t speak English but the person next to us who was helping us spoke. And I took my bandana off, put it in a knot and shoved it in the bullet hole in his back, because it didn’t go through. The second person I helped, she got hit in the arm.”

Hansen crawled his way out of the club.

The mass shooting at Pulse came 24 hours and just 4 miles away from the targeted shooting of singing star and The Voice finalist Christina Grimmie.

More: The suspect is identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who lived in Ft. Pierce, in St. Lucie County, Fla. He is a U.S. citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan.

NBC News spoke with Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique: “This has nothing to do with religion,” he said. Mateen got angry when he saw two men kissing recently in Miami, his father says, and that may be what set him off.

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country,” Seddique said.

More: The gunman called 911 moments before to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS, law enforcement sources told CNN and NBC News.

President Obama addressed the nation at 2 p.m. ET:

The city of Orlando has set up this page with the names of the victims whose families have been notified. As of this writing 4 of the 50 names of the dead have been posted: Edward Sotomayor Jr., Stanley Almodovar III, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo and Juan Ramon Guerrero