Orlando Mayor: 50 Dead in Nightclub Shooting

Carolyn McAtee Cerbin, Steph Solis and John Bacon, USA Today, June 12, 2016

A heavily armed assailant opened fire in a packed Orlando nightclub early Sunday in a bloody massacre, killing 50 people and prompting a terrorism investigation, authorities said.

Mayor Buddy Dyer said 50 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the attack at Pulse Orlando, a gay club just south of downtown.

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A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY the suspect had been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Mina said 42 people were transferred to local hospitals, and one officer was wounded.

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FBI Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the case was being investigated as a possible act of terrorism, either domestic or international. It was not clear if the shooter acted alone, he said. He said authorities were trying to determine if there was a connection with radical Islam.

“We do have suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” Hopper said.

A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY investigators were reviewing the attacker’s possible utterances that may provide more specific information about a terror ideology or affiliation. The official, who was not authorized to comment, characterized the attack as “certainly’’ terrorism.

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FBI Director James Comey has said in recent months that authorities had about 1,000 open investigations into home grown violent extremists. The overwhelming number of those cases, authorities said, were suspects with alleged ties to the Islamic State.

Orlando recently wrapped up its annual weeklong Gay Days festival on June 6 in which up to 150,000 in the LGBT community attend area theme parks, gay nightclubs and special events. It was the 25th anniversary of Gay Days. It remains one of the largest gay pride events in the world.

Saturday night and into Sunday, the club was celebrating Latin Night.

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