Blood of Americans were shed on Sunday in Orlando, the United States of America, by a gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Fla, who opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub. No fewer than 50 people were killed even as about 53 others were injured.
The rampage that turned into a deadly hostage situation, according Washington Post, was described as an act of domestic terrorism.
Police had initially thought that about 20 people were killed in the attack, but authorities said later on Sunday morning that the toll was significantly higher.
Officials said the attacker was shot and killed by police officers in a shootout. It was not immediately clear if the 50 people killed included the gunman.
The suspected gunman was identified by relatives and law enforcement officials. One relative said that Mateen’s family was in shock after being told on Sunday morning about his involvement. This relative said Mateen’s family was very sorry about what had happened.
Police have not identified a possible motive, and details about Mateen’s background were scarce on Sunday morning. His family is from Afghanistan, while Mateen is believed to have been born in the United States.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday-morning news conference, adding that the attacker had an “assault-type” weapon and a handgun.
At least 42 people were transported to various hospitals, Mina said, adding that one officer was wounded.
Orange County Sheriff, Jerry Demings said at the news conference: “this is an incident … that we certainly classify as a domestic terror incident.”
The FBI is involved in the investigation, authorities said.
“We had a crime that will have a lasting effect on our community,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, adding: “We need to stand strong; we need to be supportive of the victims and their families.”
Officials said on Sunday that they found “an assault-type rifle and a handgun” at the scene. In addition, a law enforcement official said Mateen was previously known to authorities, but said he was not under investigation.
The White House said President Obama was briefed on the incident Sunday
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack on jihadi forums, but ISIS sympathizers have reacted by praising the attack on pro-Islamic State forums.
“We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate,” President Obama said in an address to the nation from the White House.
While the violence could have hit any American community, “this is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” he said.
Omar Mir Seddique Mateen was born in 1986 in New York City. Most recently he lived in Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando. He had worked since 2007 as security officer at G4S Secure Solutions, one of the world’s largest private security companies.
Mateen’s parents, who are from Afghanistan, said he’d expressed outrage after seeing two men kiss in Miami, but didn’t consider him particularly religious.
Mateen was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for a suicide bomber, FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper told reporters Sunday.
“Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going,” Hopper said. [myad]