ORLANDO, Florida — Here’s a timeline of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with at least 50 dead and at least 53 wounded at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This timeline is based on information provided by Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, the FBI, and other law enforcement authorities.
Gunshots shatter the night
Sunday, 2:02 a.m. ET: Shooting erupts at Pulse, a gay nightclub in the heart of Orlando, as some 320 people enjoy the club’s “Latin flavor” event.
An officer working extra duty in full uniform at the club responds.
He and two officers nearby open fire on the shooter, a gunbattle ensues.
The shooter goes inside the club, a hostage situation develops.
Some 100 officers from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orlando Police Department respond to the chaotic scene.
2:09 a.m. ET: Pulse posts an urgent message on Facebook: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”
A tense standoff follows. Police say they had to wait three hours to access the situation, get armored vehicles on to the scene and make sure they had enough personnel.
3:58 a.m. ET: A post on Orlando Police Department’s official Twitter account says: “Shooting at Pulse Nightclub on S Orange. Multiple injuries. Stay away from area.”
Sunday, approximately 5 a.m. ET: Heavily armed SWAT team members use an armored vehicle to smash down a door, clearing the way for some 30 people in the club to flee to safety.
SWAT officers confront the suspect in the doorway, shoot and kill him.
5:05 a.m. ET: Post on Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account says loud noise near scene was a “controlled explosion.”
5:53 a.m. ET: Twitter account of Orlando Police Department posts that shooter is dead.
7:15 a.m. ET: Orlando Police Chief John Mina announces at a press conference that multiple people have died inside the club. He says the shooter was armed with an assault-type rifle and a handgun.
10:15 a.m. ET: Authorities identify the Orlando nightclub shooter as Omar Saddiqui Mateen from Fort Pierce, Florida, at a news conference. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer updates the death toll to 50, with 53 others wounded.
12:03 p.m. ET Florida Gov. Rick Scott posts on Twitter: “This is an attack on our people. An attack on Orlando. An attack on Florida. An attack on America. An attack on all of us.”
He declares a state of emergency in Orange County.
Here’s what we know:
Death toll: 50
This is the worst terror attack in the United States since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States.
— Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
— Stanley Almodovar III, 23
— Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
— Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
— Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
— Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
— Luis S. Vielma, 22
— Kimberly Morris, 37
Patrons of the Pulse nightclub, which on its website describes itself as “the hottest gay bar in Orlando,” were targeted. June is Pride Month. Between 300 and 350 people were at the club.
There were dramatic new details about how some employees and patrons of the nightclub survived, according to a source close to the nightclub’s owners and employees:
One person hiding in the bathroom covered herself with bodies to protect herself. She survived.
Some entertainers hid in the dressing room when the shooting started. They were able to escape the building when police removed the air conditioning unit and crawled out.
One of the bartenders said that she was hiding under the glass bar. Police came in and said, “If you are alive, raise your hand.” Police got them out.
Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse, released the following statement: “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
The shooter, killed by officers, has been identified as Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, two law enforcement officials told CNN. The suspect was from Fort Pierce, Florida. The shooter called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombers, according to a U.S. official.
The family of the shooter told investigators Mateen wasn’t particularly religious from what they observed. They expressed surprise about any connection to ISIS, according to two law enforcement officials. (He was born in New York to parents from Afghanistan.)
Two former high school classmates at two different schools remember Omar Mateen saying something to the effect that Osama bin Laden was his uncle. The classmates said that the September 11 attacks seemed to be a significant moment for him.
In an interview with CNN’s Drew Griffin, the imam at the Fort Pierce Islamic Center, Dr. Syed Shafeeq Rahman, says Mateen was playful and more social when young, but recently kept to himself. Mateen would come two or three times a week for two hours and talk to no one.
Mateen did express outrage to his father after seeing two men kissing in Miami, investigators say. Mateen’s ex-wife told investigators he had issues with anger. Sitora Yusufiy said Mateen was a normal husband at the beginning of their marriage, but a few months in he started abusing her. Mateen was “bipolar” she said, but he was not formally diagnosed.
The shooter purchased a handgun and a long gun within the last few days, ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trevor Velinor told reporters. “He is not a prohibited person. They can legally walk into a gun dealership and acquire and purchase firearms. He did so. And he did so within the last week or so,” Velinor said.
Mateen was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ronald Hopper told reporters. “Those interviews turned out to be inconclusive, so there was nothing to keep the investigation going,” Hopper said.
Mateen was not under investigation at the time of the shooting and was not under surveillance, Hopper said.
According to a neighbor who saw him regularly, Mateen worked as a security guard at the Port St. Lucie courthouse. The neighbor said Mateen often worked security in the front of the building, manning the metal detectors.
Authorities are looking into possible self-radicalization.
“This is clearly an act of terrorism,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday as he spoke to reporters about the shooting. “It’s sickening,” he said. “It should make every American angry.”
President Barack Obama addressed the nation, calling the Orlando attack an “act of terror and an act of hate.” He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff. This is the 15th time Obama has made an address in response to a mass shooting.
Obama’s first campaign appearance with presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been postponed because of the Orlando shootings, the campaign announced.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the Orlando nightclub terror attack on jihadi forums, but ISIS sympathizers reacted by praising the attack on pro-Islamic State forums, according to CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank.