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1PM: Surgeons: Gay club shooting death toll may rise

Mon 13 Jun 2016 In: International News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Holes smashed through the Pulse club walls by police and SWAT teams as they attempted to enter the club to rescue hostages 1.00PM Monday NZT live update: Hospital physicians say the death toll from the Orlando gay club mass shooting may rise as many patients who survived the attack are severely injured and are in a critical condition. The current toll of fifty dead is already reportedly making the attack the worst mass shooting in USA history. Shooter Omar Mir Siddique Mateen is being described as a loner with very few friends who was, none the less, friendly and outgoing during his college years during which hen played football. The imam at the mosque Mateen attended for nearly ten years described him as a soft-spoken, regular worshiper who rarely interacted with the congregation. "He hardly had any friends," the head of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, near Mateen's home town has told Reuters. "He would come with his little son at night to pray and after he would leave." The imam says Mateen would speak with no one during his mosque visits. The mosque, which its leaders describe as "peaceful" and "moderate," was also attended at one time by the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Its imam has issued a statement saying: “We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured,” the centre said in a statement. “The Muslim community of Fort Pierce joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence.” Mateen had been investigated as far back as 2013 due to claimed links to radical elements but over the years there was insufficient evidence for him to be flagged as a serious risk. National leaders around the world including the Prime ministers of Canada, the UK and Australia have condemned the attack. A club-goer who managed to escape alive says it was unclear at first that the sounds of the shooting were not part of the dance floor music. He says he escaped through the back of the venue by crawling on his elbows and knees. “When I got across thee street there was blood everywhere," he said. "I was helping somebody because he was laying down and I wasn't sure if he was dead or alive. I took my bandanna off, I shoved it in this hole, the bullet hole that was in his back. "After everybody was out, the shooting was still going and the cops were still yelling, 'Go! Go! Clear the area, clear the area!' " he added. "I just dropped down. I just said, 'Please, please, please, I want to make it out.' And when I did, I saw people shot. I saw blood. You hope and pray you don't get shot." Another survivor says in his desperation to get out of the club he became covered in blood and didn't even know at first if it was his own or from other victims. The police chief says even seasoned, veteran police officers were “horrified” by the carnage they found inside the nightclub once the attacker was shot dead. He says his staff did an incredible job rescuing thirty hostages. A candlelight vigil is being organised for Frank Kitts Park in Wellington at 6pm, the timing of that vigil and one in Auckland will coincide with vigils being organised by gay communities around the world. 12.10pm Monday NZT live update: An aerial view of a side entrance of Pulse nightclub after the mass shooting Orlando's police chief has called the last 24 hours the 'darkest day of my 25 years at the Orlando Police Department. In a letter to his staff he says he knows his staff have “all been affected by the tragic actions of a lone terrorist who cut short the lives of so many.” It is understood Mateen left a phone message with Orlando police before the attack explaining his reasons for what he was about to do. Orlando's first openly gay commissioner has spoken out saying “as a community we are people who love, we are resilient and we are going to show you the good... you are nothing but thugs and murderers and we will show you that we are a better community and a better America than this.” Gay and gay-alligned celebrities are sending out brief twitter messages. Latino gay singer Ricky Martin has tweeted his strength for being gay amidst the massacre. “Horrified by the mass shooting in Orlando. When will we do something to prevent these killing sprees?” Beyonce has expressed her condolences and Lady Gaga her frustration, calling the massacre “sickening” and “traumatising.” Rapper Lil' Kim says she is “heartbroken”. Ariana Grande says “We are shocked and appalled by the #pulse nightclub shooting in Florida this morning. Ignorance strikes again. Enrique Iglesias has said “Thoughts mass shooting at Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in which 50 people were killed and a further 53 wounded. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told a press conference that the man who was detained declared he was “coming to Pride”. According to CBS, Garcetti told reporters “An individual here, we believe completely unrelated (to the Orlando shooting), who said he was coming to Pride who was heavily armed and was apprehended by Santa Monica police department officials in the area last night.” A spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police, Saul Rodriguez told the LA Times that Police were “not aware of what the suspect’s intentions were at this point.” The LA Times reports that the suspect told Los Angeles County Sheriff that he was going to the Pride Parade to look for a friend, the authorities are now looking for this person and the FBI is assisting with the investigation. The FBI say “Out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced our security presence for the event and have tactical units at the ready to prevent and respond to any circumstances.” “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this horrific attack which occurred in Orlando early this morning. “While there are no specific or credible threats received by law enforcement for the greater Los Angeles area, our personnel maintain a heightened state of situational awareness and remain vigilant in the protection of our communities.” State of Emergency: The Governor of Florida has confirmed a state of emergency for the city of Orlando and the surrounding county. "Because of the scale of the crime I've asked the [Florida] governor to declare a state of emergency," he said. "We're also issuing a state of emergency for the city of Orlando so that we can bring additional resources to bear to deal with the aftermath." Orlando police say they are not looking for a second gunman. Early in the attack when information was scarce it was feared there were two gunmen in the club. Meanwhile, Mateen's wife – who remains officially unnamed - has told the Washington Post Mateen, who she met online eight years ago, was violent, emotionally unstable and used to beat her. “He was not a stable person,” the ex-wife said. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.” Isil has claimed responsibility for the attack. US vice president Joe Biden has "offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims." Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a tweet she made clear she made clear was from her personally and not done on her behalf, has said "Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act.” She has referred to the massacre as an "act of terror" and an "act of hate." Clinton's Democratic rival for the presidency, Bernie Sanders, called it "horrific" and "unthinkable" and said it underscores the need for gun control measures. Republican candidate Donald Trump, who initially referred to a “bad shooting” has tweeted "Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims 10am Monday NZT live update: Shooting survivor Christopher Hansen describes the scene inside the nightclub Eye witnesses are describing the scene of the Orlando nightclub shooting as “a real horror” with “bodies going down”. Talking to NBC News, club-goer Christopher Hansen says he took his first sip of a drink at Pulse nightclub when he heard sharp noises ringing out in succession. "I just saw bodies going down. Bang, bang, bang,” he told an NBC reporter. As 20 or 30 shots rung out, Hansen instinctively got down and crawled away from the epicentre of the shooting, not catching a glimpse of the gunman, Omar Mateen. "People stomped on me ... I was zig-zagging just in case because you could still hear the bullets going off," he said. "I was terrified. I was in shock.” Hansen told NBC News he was already near the exit and crawled past the bathroom to make it outside. On the way he saw a man who had a bullet in his back and his pants were drenched in blood. The man didn’t speak English and Hansen tore off his bandana and used it to try to stop the bleeding. "I had just seen the movie 'The Conjuring 2'" before coming to the club, to go from a horror movie to a real horror, it's just shocking,” he said. "There's sweat and blood, I know it's under my nails," he said. "This is just a tragic situation.” Another shooting survivor, nursing student Joshua McGill told NBC that he and his roommates hid in an employee area of the nightclub before they could run outside. "During my run across the parking lot I did hear more shooting and I ducked behind a car and crawled under the car. ”That's when I noticed another club-goer staggering, covered in blood and I helped him get behind the car.” A bouncer knocked down a partition between the the club area and the employee area, allowing people to escape through the back of the club, according to club-goer Rob Rick who says he got on the ground and crawled towards a DJ booth. 9.15am Monday NZT live update: Friends and family console one another outside Pulse nightclub REUTERS/Steve Nesius The Orlando Police Department have released the first names of the people who lost their lives at the Pulse nightclub in Florida in the early hours of Sunday morning local time. The first victims have been named as Edward Sotomayor Jr., Stanley Almodovar III, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo and Juan Ramon Guerrero. Police say the next of kin of all named victims have been contacted. The men lost their lives during a mass shooting overnight New Zealand time that killed 50 people and wounded 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A post on The City of Orlando website reads “On this very difficult day, we offer heartfelt condolences to today’s victims and their families. “Our City is working tirelessly to get as much information out to the families so they can begin the grieving process. Please keep the following individuals in your thoughts and prayers. #PrayforOrlando” The list of victims will be updated as more family are informed of the loss of their loved ones. Shooter Omar Mir Siddique Mateen 8.30AM Monday NZT live update: The gunman who killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before the mass shooting. The Orlando Police have confirmed that 29-year-old Omar Mateen has been identified as the gunman in the shooting. Police shot and killed Mateen on the scene. CNN reports that according to a US official, Mateen had called 911 and talked about the Islamic State shortly before the shooting. Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hooper told reporters that the F.B.I had investigated Mateen twice, in both 2013 and 2014 but the interviews were inconclusive and there was nothing to keep the investigation going”. Mateen was not under surveillance or under investigation at the time of the shooting. The DJ who was playing at the nightclub at the time of the attack is consoled by a friend. Image:AP At approximately 2am local time, Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub with an assault rifle and a pistol and opened fire. Following a three hour standoff with Police, The Orlando Police Department say Mateen had legally purchased firearms in Florida within the last week although it is unclear whether either of these firearms were used in the shooting. The worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, President Obama says this shooting is “an act of terror and hate”.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 13th June 2016 - 8:52am

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