- NYC-born 'Islamic extremist' Omar Mateen, 29, who shot dead 50 and injured 53 in Orlando gay club massacre was homophobe 'who got angry when he saw two men kissing'
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Suspected Islamic extremist opened fire inside Pulse gay club in Orlando in the early hours of this morning
- Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter as US citizen Omar Mateen, from Port St. Lucie in Florida
- He killed at least 50 people, injured 53 and took party-goers hostage before being shot dead by police
- Shooter, 29, was carrying a suspicious device, possibly a suicide vest, when he began shooting in the nightclub
- Police used an explosive device to distract the gunman and rescue around 30 people who had been taken hostage
- Police engaged in gunfire with the man and an officer was shot in the head, but he was saved by his helmet
- FBI says gunman may have 'leanings to radical Islamic terrorism' and it is being investigated as 'an act of terrorism'
- Took place four miles from where The Voice singer Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot dead at The Plaza Live on Friday
- See more of the latest news on the Orlando shooting at Pulse gay club as gunman shoots at least 50 dead
Omar Mateen, 29, was 'on the radar' of U.S. officials for some time
The gunman who slaughtered at least 50 people after taking party-goers hostage inside a gay club in Orlando had pledged allegiance to Islamic State, according to California congressman Adam Schiff.
Schiff, who serves as top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN: 'What I've heard from the Department of Homeland Security this morning is that, according to local police, he made a pledge of allegiance to ISIL (ISIS).'
He said the shooting was 'highly indicative of an ISIL-inspired attack'.
Schiff added: '[He] was heard praying in a foreign language and I don't know if this was at some point during the course of the shooting but that's what I'm hearing, obviously second hand, coming ultimately from local police.'
Mateen also called 911 shortly before the shooting and swore allegiance to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter, who was wielding an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun, as US citizen Omar Mateen, 29, from Port St. Lucie in Florida.
The gunman, who was born to Afghan parents, opened fire on the dance floor inside Pulse night club in the early hours of this morning.
At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.
An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism, adding that they are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
Schiff said in a statement: 'This attack is so painfully reminiscent of the terrible attack at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, and other ISIS-inspired attacks in recent years.
'The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT night club during Pride, and - if accurate - that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism.
'Whether this attack was also ISIS-directed, remains to be determined.'
But Mateen's father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News his son became angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami several months ago.
'This has nothing to do with religion,' he said. 'We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren't aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.'
Writing on Facebook, Pulse, which described itself as the most prominent gay club in Orlando, urged party-goers to 'get out and keep running' as bullets started flying at around 2am local time.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2am, then went back inside and took hostages. There were about 320 people inside the club at the time of the shootings and about 100 people were taken hostage.
At around 5am authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages. Nine hero officers used a 'controlled explosion' to distract the shooter before fatally shooting him and were able to rescue about 30 hostages who were hiding in the bathroom of the club.
During the gunfire, an officer was shot, but he was saved by his helmet. It was thought that at least one hostage had been locked in a bathroom with gunshot wounds.
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Pictured: US citizen Omar Mateen, 29, the suspected Islamic extremist who slaughtered at least 50 people inside a gay club in Orlando
Attack: A woman sits on the ground outside the club while another party-goer, whose legs are covered in blood, stands beside her
Response: Emergency services are pictured at the scene outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida following this morning's shooting
Distraught: A woman sits outside the nightclub following the mass shooting. Around 50 people were killed by the suspected gunman
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during following the shooting at Pulse nightclub
Ray Rivera, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend outside of the Orlando Police Department following the shooting
Demetrice Naulings (left) sobs outside the Orlando Police Headquarters where police are interviewing witnesses. Right: People wait outside the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after the shooting at Pulse gay club
Friends and family members embrace outside Orlando Police Headquarters following the deadly shooting in the early hours of this morning
SWAT: Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT members arrive at the scene of the fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando
Fatalities: At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting. Pictured: An Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT member
Police, army and FBI surround the club after a suspected Islamic extremist wielding an assault rifle and a handgun killed about 50 people
An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Pictured: Forensics at the scene of the shooting
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3637414/Everyone-running-Gunman-bursts-gay-nightclub-Florida-shoots-20-people-taking-hostages.html#ixzz4BO7MEKxT
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