Orlando Gay Bar Shooting

Fifty people have been killed and a further 53 people have been injured at a popular Orlando gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

US officials have confirmed that the killer, 29-year-old Omar Saddiqui Mateen, was also shot dead at the scene after a shootout with police.

Police were called to the Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning at approximately 2:00am local time after a police officer had engaged the shooter and he’d entered the nightclub and took hostages.

More police officers rushed to the scene and broke down a door with an armored vehicle, a decision authorities claim saved approximately 30 lives.

When the attack first began, staff at the venue posted on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

One clubber, Ricardo Negron, told Sky News he heard “non-stop firing” inside the venue.

“At around 2:00am someone started shooting. People just dropped on the floor,” he said.

“I guess the shooter was shooting at the ceiling because you could see all the glass from the lamps falling.

“There was a brief pause in the shooting and some of us just got up and ran out the back.”

While the killer’s motives are still unclear at this stage, Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique told NBC that his son was likely driven by homophobia, citing a recent incident where his son became very angry when he saw two men kissing.

“We were in Downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music. And he saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got very angry,” Mir Seddique, said.

“They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’ And then we were in the men’s bathroom and men were kissing each other.”

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” Seddique said. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”

CNN reported unnamed government officials as saying Mateen had called Orlando police and pledged his loyalty to terror group ISIS and mentioned previous terror events such as the Boston Marathon bombing, but President Barack Obama said in a statement that “no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer” had been reached.

Local LGBTI organisation Equality Florida says the attack, which took place during the US’ Gay Pride Month, has devastated all Americans, in particular the LGBTI community.

“We are heartbroken and angry that senseless violence has once again destroyed lives in our state and in our country,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety.

“We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy.”

Equality Florida has started a crowdfunding campaign on website GoFundMe to raise money for victims and their families and have attracted more than $878,000 in donations.

Nerelle Harper

Nerelle is a contributor for QN Magazine and QNEWS Online

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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