Phelan M. Ebenhack // Associated Press
Update: 50 are now confirmed dead and over 50 injured in the attack, which is being described at the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history since 1890.
Tragedy struck a popular gay nightclub in Orlando hosting a Latin dance night early Sunday (June 12) when gunfire erupted around 2:00 a.m. ET resulting in what was first thought to be the deaths of 20 clubgoers.
Reports vary as to how many people occupied Pulse nightclub at the time of the shooting, with some listing 100 and others saying as many as 300 people were inside. Police say the gunman, carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun, opened fired shortly after entering the venue, and more than 50 people were injured in addition to the many deaths. The gunman was found dead inside the club four hours later, after a team of SWAT officers engaged in a tactical shootout with him. Reports have confirmed the gunman's identity as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, and another report suggests he may have leanings toward radical Islam. Mateen is being described an American citizen, who worked as a security guard. It's unclear as of press time what his motive may have been or whether this was the work of a larger group or just a single person. A CBS report claims Mateen's father suggested his son may have had "anti-gay" feelings, and in an interview with NBC, his father said the shooting had nothing to do with religion; there are reports indicating that Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a call to 911 before he took action. Mateen's father in the interview described an incident where his son became angry recently when he witnessed two men in Miami kissing one another. The FBI is set to investigate Mateen's apartment, and local authorities are speaking to surviving victims and witnesses to gather more information.
President Obama has been brief on the situation, and the White House issued this statement:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.
A state of emergency has also been initiated to assist with resources in recovering in the aftermath of the incident.
"There's blood everywhere," Mayor Buddy Dyer told gathered press, as a means of describing the severity of the attack. An identified bouncer is said to have knocked down a partition that created an opening for countless inhabitants of the club to escape through the back and avoid harm. The shooting comes one day after a former The Voice contestant was also killed by a gunman in the area.
Footage on social media was frightening, with many patrons in shock.
Clubgoers also posted messages to notify family and friends they were separated from during the shooting that they made it out alive. Relatives of the Pulse patrons are on hand to look for loved ones they have yet to hear from.
An eyewitness account inside of the Orlando nightclub during the mass shooting. https://t.co/MFc4fndttA— Nightline (@Nightline) June 12, 2016
A mother pleads for information on her son in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shootinghttps://t.co/vLTZsxklpF— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 12, 2016
In an act that is sure to inspire many, long lines have begun to form outside of blood banks in Orlando as hundreds of residents seek to help those who were injured.
WATCH: The line of people waiting to donate blood wraps around the building at an Orlando blood bankhttps://t.co/Umo6FTvqCF— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 12, 2016
Stay tuned to REVOLT for more updates.