Shooting at Orlando Nightclub a ‘Domestic Terror Incident,’ Approximately 20 Dead, Officials Say

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A shooting at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning has been described as a "domestic terror incident" with at least 20 fatalities and at least 42 hospitalized individuals, officials said.

At a press conference on Sunday at 7 a.m., an FBI official was asked if the shooter, who was shot and killed by police, had ties to Jihadist terror groups. "At this time we're looking at all angles right now." the official said. "We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that, that particular ideology. But right now we can’t say definitively so we’re still running everything around”

The FBI also said the shooter "was organized and well-prepared," adding "he is not from this area."

Officials at the press conference said a police officer responded to shots fired at 2:02 a.m., and the officer then exchanged fire with the gunman -- who has yet to be identified.

It then turned into "a hostage situation." SWAT officers exchanged gunfire. The gunman had an assault rifle, handgun and "some kind of device on him." At approximately 5 a.m., the decision was made to rescue the hostages, officials said.

Then at 5:53 a.m. Orlando police tweeted, "The shooter inside the nightclub is dead," referring to Pulse Nightclub, which bills itself on its website as "Orlando's Premier Gay Night Club."

"This can be classified as a domestic terror incident," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at the press conference.

And the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement is investigating this morning's shooting as "an act of terrorism." It said it will determine if it is "domestic or international" terrorism.

At the press conference, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer said "many lives were lost," with Orlando Chief of Police John Mina adding that "approximately" 20 people we killed, and "at least 42 people" were transported to various hospitals. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos following the press conference, Mayor Dyer clarified the initial figure, saying the number of dead was "probably in excess of 20 dead."

Orlando Regional Medical Center, located near the nightclub, said it received "several gunshot victims," in a statement released at 5 a.m.

The statement read, "Orlando Regional Medical Center was placed on lockdown around 2:00 a.m. after receiving several gunshot victims. Only essential workers are being allowed access into the building. Out of an abundance of caution, Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital have also been placed on lockdown."

Word of the situation spread shortly after 2 a.m., when Pulse Nightclub posted on its Facebook page, "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running."

Police followed up by tweeting, "Shooting at Pulse Nightclub on S Orange. Multiple injuries. Stay away from area."


The next significant update was at 5:48 a.m., five minutes before announcing the shooter's death, when police tweeted, "We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation. Support from local/state/federal agencies."

The FBI was among the agencies at the crime scene, as was the Orlando Fire Department's bomb squad and hazardous material team.

 
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.


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