A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun took hostages and opened fire inside a crowded Orlando nightclub, killing approximately 50 people and wounding 53 others before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said Sunday. It's the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The suspect has been tentatively identified as Omar Mateen, two law enforcement officials tell NPR's Carrie Johnson. No further information about Mateen was immediately provided.
Police Chief John Mina also said the shooter had some sort of "suspicious device." He said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2 a.m., then went back inside and took hostages.
Around 5 a.m., authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages, and the suspect then died in a gunfight with those officers. Mina said police have not determined an exact number of casualties, but that "approximately 20" people were dead inside the club.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks said during a news conference that the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether this was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
During the standoff, police were asking people to stay away from the area near the Pulse Orlando nightclub near Orange and Kaley Avenue Avenues in downtown Orlando. Multiple emergency vehicles have reportedly responded, including the Orlando Fire Department's bomb squad and hazardous material team.
Pulse Orlando earlier posted on its own Facebook page just after 2 a.m.: "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running."
The incident follows the fatal shooting on Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on "The Voice."