Orlando affiliates WFTV (ABC), WKMG (CBS), WESH (NBC) and WOFL (Fox) rushed crews to the scene of the Pulse nightclub and Orlando Regional Medical Center gathering some of the first images and eyewitness accounts of what has become the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
At least 50 people are dead and another 53 wounded when a gunman identified as Omar Mateen entered the club with an assault weapon and a handgun and opened fire. The shootings began just after 2 a.m. and the situation wasn’t over until 5 a.m. when Orlando SWAT stormed the club and killed the shooter. As many as 320 people where in the club at the time of the initial assault. The SWAT team rescued 30 people, Orlando’s police chief said.
“I happened to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning I looked at my phone and I looked at Facebook and I saw that my son’s friend said that he was at Pulse and there was an active shooter, and he could not find his friends. My son is unaccounted for right now,” said Leinonen, whose son has a graduate degree in clinical psychology. “The last thing I told him was that I loved him.”
The massacre at Pulse nightclub came a little more than 24 hours, and just 4 miles away from the shooting death of singing star Christina Grimmie, who was killed by a deranged fan following a concert Friday night.
WFTV, WKMG and WESH began continuing coverage around 5 a.m. while WOFL began at 6 a.m.
The killer worked in private security in St. Lucie County, Fla, about 90 minutes southeast of Orlando. Born in the U.S., Mateen’s parents are Afghan. His father told NBC News the massacre was “not about religion” but rather that his son was homophobic, recently enraged after seeing two men kissing in Miami.
Still, Mateen was known to the Joint Terrorism Task Force and hit their radar at least 3 years ago, NBC News reported.