At least 50 people are dead and 53 injured after a gunman opened fire at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. The FBI have identified a suspect and declared the incident an act of domestic terrorism. “We’re dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said this afternoon, as he declared a state of emergency for the city.
The initial shooting began at around 2am inside Pulse, one of Orlando’s biggest nightclubs. A hostage situation developed and at 5am police entered the building and killed the gunman.
It is estimated that about 320 people were inside the venue when the shooting began. The club authorities responded with the following Facebook post: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running”
Dozens are now in hospital, where the focus is on the provision of emergency support for the victims and their families. An appeal for blood donors and a call for witnesses have been made. A crisis hotline has also been set up to help relations and friends look for loved ones.
The death-toll has already surpassed the two previous deadliest shootings in U.S. history – 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007, and 27 at Sandy Hook in 2012 – and elicited condemnation from around the world. Hilary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic candidate has described the news as “devastating”.