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Orlando gay club attack: Death toll rises to 50 as gunman named as 29-year-old Omar Mateen

By Will Stroude

50 people are now know to have died following a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Another 53 people were injured in the shooting at Pulse club in Orlando, which began at approximately 2am on Sunday morning (6am GMT).

The gunman, named as 29-year-old American citizen and Florida resident Omar Mateen, took several hostages before being killed by police as they stormed the venue approximately three hours after the attack began.

A state of emergency has been declared by mayor Buddy Dyer, while authorities have confirmed that they are treating the massacre – which is now the worst mass shooting in modern US history – as a “act of terror”.

Several Orlando blood banks have reportedly lifted the ban on gay men donating blood as local medical centres struggle to cope with the atrocity.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina confirmed that Mateen – who was not on the terror watch list – was armed with an assault-style weapon, a handgun and “some kind of device”.

He added: “It’s appears he was organised and well-prepared.”


While Mateen’s motivations remain unclear, authorities are looking into potential links to Islamic extremism, as well as possible personal vendetta against the LGBT community.

The shooter’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News that his son had become angry several weeks ago after seeing seeing two men kissing in Miami.

He said he believed the incident “has nothing to do with religion”.

Mr Seddique continued: “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.”

US Congressman Alan Grayson said it was “no coincidence” the attack happened in a gay club.

“It may be we’ve seen the commission of an awful hate crime,” he said.


Witnesses have described the moment Mateen opened fire on crowds as a the Latin-themed salsa night at Pulse, which describes itself the “hottest gay bar in Orlando”, drew to a close.

Ricardo Negron Almodovar told BBC News: “We heard rapid fire go off. In the room I was in, people went down to the floor. I wasn’t able to see the shooter or people get hurt.

“At some point, there was a brief pause, and a group of us got up and went to the exit that leads to the patio area outside. We found an exit and after that… I just ran.”

As the attack unfolded, a message was posted to the Pulse Club Facebook page saying: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

The White House has released a statement saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims.” US president Barack Obama is expected to hold a press conference t appropriately 7pm this evening (June 12).