At least 50 people are feared dead after a gunman opened fire inside Pulse – a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Law enforcement sources reportedly told CBS News they have identified the suspect as 30-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S citizen from Port St. Lucie.
Mateen is alleged to have opened fire on clubbers and staff first and then on police as they responded to 911 calls, reports Mic.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jerry Demings told CBS:
At this point, this is an incident, as I can see it, we can certainly classify as a domestic terror incident.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said a decision was taken at 05:00 am to send a police assault team into the club after receiving texts and phone calls from some of the hostages.
Our Swat officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect, the suspect is dead. He appeared to be carrying an assault-type rifle and a handgun, and had some type of device on him.
As more details from the shooting are released, a series of heartbreaking text messages one terrified clubber sent to his mum while hiding from the gunman in the toilets of the club have surfaced, reports The Mirror.
The initial message reads: “Mommy I love you. In club they shooting”, to which his mum replies ‘what club’ and he says ‘Pulse’ before adding ‘call police’.
According to WFTV, it is not yet known if the sender survived the attack.
Another witness, Ricardo Negron Almodovar, was in the club. He wrote on Facebook:
I was there. Shooter opened fire @ around 2:00am.
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.
I am safely home and hoping everyone gets home safely as well :(
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all the victims at this time.