Gunman pledges allegiance to ISIS before attacking Orlando club

Shooting | Investigators are looking into shooter’s possible connections to international terror group
by
Posted 6/12/16, 02:24 pm

In what has been deemed the worst U.S. terrorist attack since 9/11, a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53 more. Before launching his attack, the gunman called 911 and pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The terror began at 2 a.m. Sunday. After a brief shootout with law enforcement officers, the gunman went inside the club, where more than 300 people had gathered, and held hostages before opening fire.

People in the club used cell phones to tell police about what was happening. Many crawled under tables or tried to escape out the back door.

“I was thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So I just dropped down. I just said, ‘Please, please, please, I want to make it out,’” said Christopher Hansen, who was at the club when the shooting started. “And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood.”

Officials identified the gunman as 29-year-old Omar Mateen from Ft. Pierce, Fla. Mateen was “on the radar” for U.S. officials but not a target of investigations.

Investigators have “suggestions the individual has leanings towards (Islamic terrorism), but right now we can’t say definitely,” said Ron Hopper, assistant special agent with the FBI’s Orlando bureau. The FBI is investigating Mateen’s possible connections to radical Islam. No international terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials say it’s an act of terror nonetheless.

“This is clearly an act of terrorism,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. “It should make every American angry.”

Mateen held club-goers hostage for three hours until a SWAT team used an armed vehicle to break into the building at 5 a.m. Mateen died in a shootout with police. One bullet struck a police officer in the head, but his helmet saved his life.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said. “Fifty victims in one location, one shooting, is absolutely one of the worst tragedies we’ve seen.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency in the city. Blood drives are opening and counseling hotlines are available for victims and their families.

Prior to Sunday, the deadliest shooting rampage in American history was the 2007 Virginia Tech attack, which killed 32 and injured 30. Sunday’s events now mark the worst mass shooting in American history.

“Confronting the threat of violent homegrown radicalization is one of the greatest counterterrorism challenges our law enforcement and intelligence community faces,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

The Pulse, where the shooting took place, is popular with the LGBTQ community in Orlando. June is gay pride month, and Orlando recently concluded its annual week-long Gay Days celebration with more than 150,000 persons in attendance. Officials are considering whether the massacre can be deemed a hate crime.

The attack follows the fatal shooting of Christina Grimmie, a former contestant on the popular television show The Voice. According to investigators, a mentally unstable fan shot and killed Grimmie at an Orlando concert late Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

  • Janet B
    Posted: Sun, 06/12/2016 08:18 pm

    "Officials are considering whether the massacre can be deemed a hate crime."
    I thought all killing was hateful.
    And what's with this "worst terrorist attack" stuff? Deadliest, maybe. But how do you decide which mass killing of innocent people the "worst." All are equally evil.
    May God comfort the families of those who died, and heal those who were harmed. May they all come to know the true love of Jesus.

  • Grasp at heel
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 01:02 am

    So, the Revolutionary war, Civil war, War of 1812, and Texas Revolution are not apart of American History? Those seem worse to me, I suppose we should forget them now cause they were too long ago.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 02:42 am

    Grasp at Heel: The article says that this was the "worst mass shooting", a category which generally implies a gunman shooting large numbers of unarmed civilians--distinct from war.

  • Rich277
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 08:38 am

    The ACLU is already blaming Christians for this attack. Amazing! You can see the story on the Daily Caller.

  • psubrent
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 09:17 am

    Some updates on the web site would be great. WORLD has fallen behind the coverage of other news outlets by far...

  • dan49erfan
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 11:02 am

    Once again attack in a target rich environment commonly called a gun free zone.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 11:49 am

    @psubrent: Please see https://world.wng.org/2016/06/lawmakers_respond_to_orlando_attack and https://world.wng.org/2016/06/globe_trot_isis_calls_orlando_killer_a_sol.... There will be an additional report on the reaction in Orlando later today.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 11:51 am

    We haven't heard much about the weapons used. It would be helpful to know the sequence - how does he get in with weapons, how does he shoot 50 and would 53 without a citizen taking him down ? In the VA Tech shooting, it was if they were all lambs at the slaughter, and no one fought back. Not trying to be insensitive, just wondering.

    @World - Reply button [still] doesn't work on desktop.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 11:53 am

    @World - when I added my comment just above, upon refresh mine was the only comment. So I refreshed the page, and again mine was the only comment. So I closed the page and re-opened from the Home page, and there were all the comments.

    Sorry ! just tryin' to help . . .

  • Jeff Jentgen's picture
    Jeff Jentgen
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 12:39 pm

    It´s interesting to ponder, when Hitler declared war on the U.S.A., where we´d be today if Roosevelt had, instead of declaring war back at Hitler, ...had reminded us that we have not alway behaved ourselves in the past as Americans, if he had reminded us that all Germans are not bad, if he had reminded us that Germany historically is a great people with great accomplisments, etc. In 1942 had Roosevelt pandered to Germans, instead of fighting them we´d be speaking German today. Short of a major convulsion and repudiation of political correctnes, our grand kids will be speaking Arab, or Persion, and bowing down to Sharia law. What this president has done (not done) is hard to fathom. We´ll need a miracle in order to overcome our enslavement to the political correctness, an enslavement that has mutated into a phenomenum that must be classified as malevolent today. I pray for us.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 06/13/2016 12:42 pm

    @William Peck 1958: Please reserve the comments section for commenting on the story at hand. For website-related issues, please write to us directly at webeditor@wng.org. We're are working on some bugs in the commenting section, and that is one of them.

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