The Orlando attack was “the most deadly shooting in American history,” US President Barack Obama said.
“We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivation of the killer,” Obama told reporters at the White House around 2:00pm Eastern time. “What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred.”
The gunman, who was carrying an assault-style rifle, handgun and possibly an explosive device, is dead after exchanging fire with officers at 5 a.m. He had taken hostages after trying to flee.
The suspect was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen whose family is believed to be from Afghanistan. Federal officials are investigating Mateen’s possible ties to radical terror organizations.
Mateen’s father expressed shock over the attack, saying his son may have had “anti-gay” leanings.
Witnesses at the club described a chaotic scene.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency as officials throughout the state asked the public for blood donations.
Blood donation centers are looking for O negative, O positive and A/B donors.
President Obama called the shooting “an act of terror and an act of hate.”
The gunman has been identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen whose family is from Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.
Mateen was from Port St. Lucie, roughly 123 miles south of Orlando. Mir Seddique, the shooter’s father, told NBC News that the shooting had, “nothing to do with religion.” He also said Mateen got angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple of months ago and that may have been a trigger in the shooting.
“We are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique, said to the network. “We weren’t aware of any action he [was] taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”
According to CBS News, Mateen had no apparent criminal history. According to ABC News, he was “previously known to law enforcement but not under investigation.”
CNN reports that Mateen was a professional security officer and had a license to carry a firearm.