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Police Report 'Mass Casualty Situation' After Shooting at Gay Dance Club in Florida

Around 20 people were killed and 42 wounded after a gunman opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club in Florida.
Photo via AP

Multiple people were killed and many others wounded after a gunman opened fire at a crowded nightclub in Florida on Sunday morning.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said a shooter wielding an assault-type rifle killed around 20 people and wounded 42 others before dying in a shootout with SWAT officers.

The shooting happened at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club. Police said the attack started at around 2am after the gunman exchanged fire with an officer at the club, then went inside and took several hostages. SWAT officers stormed the club at around 5am to rescue the hostages and kill the suspect.


A lengthy exchange of gunfire could be heard from outside the club in one video posted on Twitter at 5:40am.

Gunfire exchanged at — Nic Hornstein (@nichornstein)June 12, 2016

Police said the gunman was carrying a "suspicious device," and posted on Twitter that a loud noise heard near the club early Sunday morning was a "controlled explosion."

An FBI spokesman said at a news conference early Sunday morning that the incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism, but authorities have offered no motive in the attack or shared any information about the suspect. Police are still investigating whether the gunman was a "lone wolf" or had help planning and carrying out the attack.

"This is an incident, as I see it, that we certainly classify as domestic terror incident," said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

At around 2am, the club posted on Facebook, "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running." Four hours later, just before 6am, the club posted an update that said, "As soon as we have any information we will update everyone. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love."

Other images on social media showed chaotic scenes as first responders treated wounded victims.

Walking to ORMC now. I'm ok. Friend got shot. I've never seen so much blood and mayhem or been so scared ever. — John PA (@lakecitymedman)June 12, 2016

The Associated Press quoted club goers as saying the shooting happened just before closing time. Witnesses described hearing dozens of gunshots, and said many people were able to escape through a staff-only area in the back of the club.

"I was thinking, are you kidding me? So I just dropped down," Christopher Hansen told the AP. "I just said please, please, please, I want to make it out. And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood. You hope and pray you don't get shot."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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