Orlando Mass Shooting: A Timeline of Events.
Times used in this article are Florida local time
Gunshots were heard by an off duty Orlando police officer who was working at the Pulse Nightclub. Omar Mateen was reportedly seen with a handgun, AR-15 and a possible explosive device.
Police reported the officer fired at him. Two more police officers showed up and began firing.
Mateen went inside the nightclub Pulse, firing back at police, trapping many inside.
Pulse Orlando’s Facebook page posted a message: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
“All I heard was gunfire after gunfire,” Brandon Wolf, who was hiding in a restroom with a friend, told the Orlando Sentinel. “Eventually, I thought you were supposed to run out of ammunition. But it just kept going and going,”.
“People were running everywhere. Gunshots were going off. People were ducking,” Ivory McNeal said, who was in the club’s patio area when the shots started going off.
More than 100 law enforcement officers gathered out the front of the club in the following three hours, assessing the situation and waiting. Dozens of people were still inside, calling 911 from the restrooms in hopes of being rescued.
An explosion was heard at the nightclub, which police reported was a “distractionary device” used as a part of the rescue mission to get to the hostages.
Police began tweeting stating that it was a “controlled explosion” in order to calm panic on the ground, and warn the media about possible inaccuracies in reporting.
That sound was a controlled explosion by law enforcement. Please avoid reporting inaccuracies at this time.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
An armored vehicle and multiple explosives were used to break through a wall of the nightclub and rescue approximately 30 hostages. A police officer managed to shoot the suspect during this intervention.
Approximately 39 people were found dead inside the club at this time.
“We were being contacted by people in the bathroom, about 15 people. Our biggest concern was future loss of life,” said Chief of Police John Mina.
Brandon Wolf, who was contacting police from inside a restroom in the club, ran out safely with his friend. A third friend was seen hoisted onto a gurney, injured.
Drew Leinonen, a fourth friend, was still missing.
Wolf contacted Leinonen’s mother, Christine Leinonen, who drove from Lakeland to the scene. She was seen running from her car toward Wolf. They embraced and cried.
During a press conference, Orlando Police Chief John Mina declined to say exactly how many people had been killed at the shooting, but stated that the number was at least 20. He also reported that 42 people had been currently hospitalized.
The shooting was called an act of terrorism by Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks.
“Any time that we have potentially dozens of victims in any of our communities, I think we do qualify that as terrorist activity,” he said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called the shooting a “horrific event.”
Law Enforcement officials reported the casualties: 50 dead, 53 injured.
“Our focus is going to be on identifying the victims and notifying the families,” Dyer said.
The front page of the Islamic Centre of Orlando condemns the shooting.
“At, ICO, We strongly condemn the shooting attack in Orlando. No religious tradition can ever justify nor condone such ruthless and senseless acts of violence. Our prayers and condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the victims.”
They provided locations to donate blood for the victims.
In a press conference, President Barack Obama said that the shooting was an act of terrorism and an act of hate.
“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live,” Obama said.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson reported the Islamic State claimed ownership of the shooting, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Seven victims have been identified by the city of Orlando.
Vigils have been taking place all around Orlando to honor the 50 victims, and those affected.