Orlando, Fla. (AP) — A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded Florida nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. It was the worst mass shooting in American history.
Authorities were investigating it as an act of terrorism.
At least 53 other people were hospitalized, most in critical condition, officials said. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.
Mayor Buddy Dyer said all of the dead were killed with the assault rifle.
“There’s blood everywhere,” Dyer said.
The suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the gay club known as Pulse around 2 a.m., when more than 300 people were inside. The gunman then went back inside and took hostages, Police Chief John Mina said.
Around 5 a.m., authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages.
Jackie Smith, who was inside the club, said two friends next to her were shot.
“Some guy walked in and started shooting everybody. He had an automatic rifle, so nobody stood a chance,” Smith said. “I just tried to get out of there.”
In addition to the guns, the shooter also had some sort of “suspicious device,” Mina said.
Authorities were looking into whether the attack was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter acted alone, according to Danny Banks, an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“This is an incident, as I see it, that we certainly classify as domestic terror incident,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
The suspect was identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Rep. Alan Grayson named the shooter, citing law enforcement officials. A federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation also confirmed the name. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
FBI agent Ron Hopper said there was no further threat to Orlando or the surrounding area.
When asked if the gunman had a connection to radical Islamic terrorism, Hopper said authorities had “suggestions that individual has leanings towards that.”
Authorities said they had secured the suspect’s vehicle, a van, right outside the club.
Relatives and friends, many in tears, gathered outside the hospital to learn whether their loved ones were among the dead or wounded.
Smith did not know the conditions of her friends and came out of the hospital and burst into tears.
The wounded included one police officer who was shot and suffered injuries to his face, officials said.
Police had said previously on Twitter that there was a “controlled explosion” at the scene of the shooting. Mina said that noise was caused by a device intended to distract the shooter.
A woman who was outside the dance club early Sunday was trying to contact her 30-year-old son, Eddie, who texted her when the shooting happened and asked her to call police. He told her he ran into a bathroom with other club patrons to hide. He then texted her:”He’s coming.”
“The next text said: ‘He has us, and he’s in here with us,'” Mina Justice said. “That was the last conversation.”
Pulse posted on its own Facebook page around 2 a.m.: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.” Just before 6 a.m., the club posted an update: “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.”
Local, state and federal agencies were investigating.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack and asked for regular updates on the investigation, the White House said.
The attack follows the fatal shooting late Friday of 22 -year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on “The Voice.”
Jon Alamo said he was at the back of one of the club’s rooms when a man holding a weapon came into the front of the room.
“I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,” Alamo said. “The music stopped.”
Club-goer Rob Rick said the shooting started just before closing time.
“Everybody was drinking their last sip,” he said.
He estimated more than 100 people were still inside when he heard shots, got on the ground and crawled toward a DJ booth. A bouncer knocked down a partition between the club area and an area in the back where only workers are allowed. People inside were able to then escape through the back of the club.
Christopher Hansen said he was in the VIP lounge when he heard gunshots. He continued to hear shooting even after he emerged and police urged people to back away from the club. He saw the wounded being tended to across the street.
“I was thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So I just dropped down. I just said, ‘Please, please, please, I want to make it out,'” he said. “And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood. You hope and pray you don’t get shot.”
#EndSARS: Here is the Complete Speech of President Buhari
The Complete Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari
Following the Lekki Massacre, president Muhammadu Buhari delivered the much-awaited speech. However, the speech failed to touch on the massacre or the people affected, infuriating millions of Nigerian youths that have committed so much to the struggle and lost so much.
Below is the complete speech.
It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.
As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
On approving the termination of SARS I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a peace-maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.
All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.
Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.
The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.
On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the well being and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is:
a. paying 3-months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small- and medium- enterprises
b. paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission
c. giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans
d. guaranteeing market for the products of traders
These are in addition to many other initiatives such as:
e. N-Tech and
No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.
With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.
The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.
In order to underscore the importance of education in preparing youths for the future, this administration has come up with a new salary structure and other incentives for our teachers.
Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.
We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.
We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens, are protected.
But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.
To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.
In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.
For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.
I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions.
Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.
And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.
Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.
I would like to thank those State Governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint.
I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.
This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.
Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Passport, Visa Trend as Nigerian Youths Look to Move Out En masse Following Disappointing Presidential Speech
Passport and Visa Trend on Twitter Following Disappointing Presidential Speech
Nigerian youths have started looking for a way to exit the country following a disappointing Presidential speech after security operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Nigeria.
The youths, who have been protesting and demanding an end to the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), had assembled at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 to sustain their protest before the commencement of a 24-hour curfew declared by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
However, shortly after they sang the national anthem, they were attacked by security operatives in one of the goriest scenes ever witnessed in the country. Despite calls for prosecution of perpetrators by both international and local civil rights organisations, the Federal Government has denied the occurrence even when Sanwo-Olu had earlier said forces beyond his control had made dark notes of history in the state.
This coupled with President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to acknowledge the killings and occurrence in his speech on Thursday, negatively affected the youths that for the first time went all out to demand a change in one voice.
Feeling dejected with the situation and most importantly hopeless about the future, they were forced to start seeking an exit from an uncertain future to a more predictable economy govern by sane people.
Since the failed presidential speech, Passport and Visa have been trending on Twitter as Nigerian youths now shift their focus to traveling out of Nigeria, a nation expected to plunge into the second economic recession in four years in the third quarter under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The inflation rate increased by 13.71 percent in September with the nation’s unemployment rate at 27.1 percent or 21.8 million amid rising economic uncertainties, weak foreign reserves and a currency that has been devalued twice this year.
#EndSARS Protesters Kill as Security Operatives Open Fire at Lekki Toll Gate
Security Operatives Open Fire on #EndSARS Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate
Nigerian security operatives deployed to Lekki Toll Gate following the announcement of a 24-hour curfew by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.
According to numerous accounts of protesters, the army started shooting even before the curfew announced to commence by 9 pm on Tuesday.
Retweet aggressively the world need to see this 🇳🇬✊
Follow for follow then we move 😭💔💔💔#unarmed #Genocide Lekki #BuhariResignNow Nigeria #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeraNOW #buhariisamurderer #blacktuesday DJ Switch Tinubu IFO OMATA my God WE WILL NEVER FORGET | Jesus |Toll pic.twitter.com/qRsH13D4c3
— #EndSars (@AkacheSucre) October 20, 2020
So even ambulance wasn’t allowed to go help the peaceful protesters that were shot at Lekki#blacktuesday #EndBadGoveranceInNigeria #EndSARS #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeraNOW #therewasacountry
Dj Switch pic.twitter.com/EBLipg7bEY
— David Young🇳🇬 (@daveyung333) October 20, 2020
— Dr Remi Adekoya (@RemiAdekoya1) October 20, 2020
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