In the worst mass shooting in US history, a three-hour siege by a gunman in a gay nightclub in Orlando killed 50 people; assailant had called 911 before the shooting, pledging allegiance to ISIS
Washington: A lone gunman armed with an assault rifle shot and killed 50 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida yesterday, in the deadliest mass shooting in the US. 50 people were killed inside the Pulse nightclub and at least 53 people were injured, police say.
Killer: Omar Mateen
"It appears he was organised and well prepared," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said. The shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and "some type of (other) device on him." Orlando authorities said they consider the violence an act of domes tic terror and the FBI is involved in the probe.
Police officers direct family members away from the shooting
The gunman had allegedly called 911 moments before the incident to pledge allegiance to ISIS, a law enforcement source told NBC news.
The shooting started a little after 2 am. The alleged shooter, identified as Omar Siddique Mateen was killed. The deadly incident went on over a three-hour period. "The suspect at some point went back inside the club where more shots were fired. This did turn into a hostage situation," Mina said.
Christine Leinonen waits for her son, who was trapped inside. Pics/AFP
Shooter’s father says
Meanwhile, Omar’s father said he believed his son was motivated by hatred of gays – not by his Muslim religion. "This had nothing to do with religion," Mir Siddique told NBC News.
He said his son recently lashed out in his presence after witnessing a gay couple embracing, and suggested the incident may have triggered the atrocity. Omar was married and had a 3-year-old son.
US mass shootings over last 12 months
June 18: Dylann Storm Roof, a white supremacist opens fire at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine.
October 1: Christopher Sean Harper-Merchant, (26) a student at a college in Oregon killed 8 fellow students and a teacher.
November 29: Gunman enters Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, kills 3, injures 9.
December 2: Married couple opens fire at holiday party in San Bernandino, California, killing 14, injuring 20.
27 The number of mass shootings in Florida in 2015, according to Shooting Tracker.
372 The number of mass shootings in the US last year, according to Mass Shooting Tracker. 475 people have died in such shootings.
The terror attack at gay club Pulse has touched a chord with Mumbai’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community.
Celebrity make up artist, Cherag Bambboat had visited the club in August 2015. He recollected his visit to Pulse along with his friend on two buzzing nights. "If you think Mumbai is crowded, you should go to Pulse, [it is] completely packed to the gills. Hardly any place to move, holding your drink."
Cherag says the first thing that hits you about Pulse, "is how brightly lit it was. You see a lot of people in drag. This is not just a gay club, it is gay theatre, gay drama. The music is top-notch and the vibe, international. Though cluttered, it is a seven star gay club."
Activist Harish Iyer, who is currently in the US, said, "I just attended the Washington Pride, but now, this shooting has thrown a shadow over everything. The incident is depressing. I feel India is more forward than the US in other ways. We have gun control laws, though gay sex is a crime."
Meanwhile, Mumbai’s Pallav Patankar, from Humsafar Trust said he was "shocked" because "Pulse is so well known to the gay community everywhere. The community feels it will be a huge pity if the shadow of fear is to fall on these places that stand as symbols of diversity.
– Hemal Ashar and Maleeva Rebello