A gunman who barricaded himself inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday morning shot and killed “approximately” 20 people, Orlando police said, in what is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
At least 42 people have been transported to local hospitals. Approximately 20 people are dead in the nightclub, Orlando’s police chief said during a press conference.
Law enforcement confirmed that the incident is being treated as an act of terrorism. Both domestic terrorism and international terrorism are being investigated.
“The shooter was organised and well-prepared. He is not from the area,” local media reported, citing Orlando police and FBI.
A gunman entered Pulse nightclub armed with an assault rifle shortly before 2 a.m., witnesses told police. Police confirmed that the shooter also had a handgun, and had a “device” on him.
Pulse markets itself as “Orlando’s premier gay nightclub.” It was Latin night at the club, according to its Facebook page.
“Everyone get out of pulse and keep running,” the nightclub said on its Facebook page at 2:09 a.m.
A dozen different local, state, and federal police agencies were on the scene early Sunday morning, CNN reported.
Orlando Regional Medical Center and two other local hospitals were placed on lockdown shortly after 2 a.m. after receiving “several gunshot victims,” according to ABC. “Only essential workers are being allowed access into the building,” Orlando Regional Medical Center said in a statement.
K-9 dogs were searching the area near Orlando Regional Medical Center with an armed deputy in head-to-toe military gear, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“It was just continuous” shooting, a witness told a local NBC affiliate. The shooting “could have lasted a whole song … people were trying to escape out the back, and when I got out, there was blood everywhere.”
About 320 people were inside the nightclub at the time of the shooting, according to Orlando police.
A loud explosion heard outside the nightclub just after 5 a.m. was a controlled explosion, Orlando police tweeted.
“People on the dance floor and bar got down on the floor and some of us who were near the bar and back exit managed to go out through the outdoor area and just ran,” another witness, Ricardo Negron Almodovar, posted on the club’s Facebook page.
The shooting came a day after 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed by a lone gunman after a concert in Orlando.
This is a developing news story and will be updated as more information comes in.
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