United We Remember event honors Pulse victims, survivors

Comments Off on United We Remember event honors Pulse victims, survivors

Tuesday marks one month since 49 people died in the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

  • United We Remember event in Kissimmee
  • Honors Pulse victims, survivors
  • Tuesday marks 1 month since the attack

“And a few seconds later we heard another pap, pap, pap, and I am like that doesn’t sound right," said Orlando Torres, a promoter for Pulse. He still wears the wristband he got at the hospital the morning of June 12.

Torres hid in one of the club’s bathrooms for hours, putting his feet up, so the shooter wouldn’t see him. “And the gunman came in shooting and struck some people on the back and I heard them moaning and screaming and breathing hard and going through it. We just managed to stay out of sight of the gunman. He never knew we were inside of that stall," Torres explained. 

Fast forward to now, he was one of the 49 angels who filled the exhibition hall at the Osceola Heritage Park — representing each life lost. 

It’s all part of United We Remember, an event put together by people in the Central Florida community. “We need to support the family victims, we need to support our community. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kissimmee or Orlando," said Yolie Cintron. 

During the event we heard from religious leaders, first responders and performers. One of the artists, Brandon Parsons wrote a song: "Forty-Nine Times," what he calls a tribute to Orlando.

Parsons said it was the easiest and hardest song he’s ever written. "You have to feel it. And that’s why I wrote this song because I felt it. Even from miles and miles away… I had to do something," Parsons said. 

And while Torres is not sure when he will be ready to take off his wristband, he says it’s community events like these that help him cope with the pain.

“We all hurt, we all bleed, we’re all god’s children. It just keeps us feeling loved and secured," Torres said. 

Bay News 9 – local-news

July 12, 2016 |

‘We stand with you’: Obama comforts Pulse victims’ families in Orlando

Comments Off on ‘We stand with you’: Obama comforts Pulse victims’ families in Orlando

Saying that "we stand with you and are here for you," President Barack Obama laid a wreath at a makeshift memorial at the downtown Orlando performing arts center Thursday afternoon in remembrance of the victims of the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

"Their grief is beyond description," Obama said, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side on the front lawn of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.

The City of Orlando had been "shaken by an evil, hateful act," but today, "most of all, there is love," Obama said.

"After the worst of humanity reared its evil head, the best of humanity came roaring back. Now, if we’re honest with ourselves and we do in fact want to show the best of humanity then we’re all going to have to work together at every level — government, across political lines, to stop killers who want to terrorize us," Obama said.

Obama and Biden also laid bouquets of flowers among the growing memorial of mylar balloons, flowers, candles, pictures and posters at the DPAC.

"Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families," Obama said. He said he held grieving parents, and "they don’t care about politics. Neither do I. This debate needs to change."

Earlier at Amway Center, the president met privately with survivors and families of the victims of the Pulse shooting, which left 49 dead early Sunday. Before the meeting, he and Biden met with local law enforcement officials to thank them for their work.

Outside of Amway, a spokeswoman for the families of the Pulse victims said they were grateful for the president’s words and visit.

“I would say that everybody left feeling comforted, and I would say on behalf of the Pulse club that resilience is probably the emotion that comes out after this,” Sara Brady said.

Salaam Bhatti, a national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said they were "heartbroken when we heard about this tragedy. We condemn what happened, and we are praying for the victims’ friends, family, and for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Obama and Biden arrived at Orlando International Airport before 1 p.m. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Corrine Brown, whose Congressional district includes Pulse nightclub, arrived on Air Force One with Obama from Washington.

Waiting to greet Obama at the bottom of the stairs on a runway at Orlando Interntional was Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Obama shook hands with Scott, and hugged Dyer, who showed him an "Orlando United" T-shirt, with a heart-shaped rainbow. He then shook hands with Jacobs.

“There’s no minimizing the impact on these families and their loss, and I know nothing that we can do will heal that wound, but I do know that having a whole community come together and having the President of the United States, President Obama come here personally, on the ground, to meet with the families sends such a healing a message to them that their loved ones mattered," Jacobs said. "It’s a healing gesture not only for the families but the entire community, especially our LGBTQ community, as well as our Hispanic community that was hit so hard by this.

"Nothing, nothing can put into words how important and helpful this is.”

Obama’s motorcade, with the dignitaries and Sen. Bill Nelson, left OIA at 12:58 p.m., headed to Amway Center.

Motorists pulled over on the side of westbound Interstate 4 to watch the presidential motorcade make its way to Amway. Eastbound I-4 was cleared of traffic, and law enforcement officers blocked entrances along the president’s route. Dozens of people stood on South Street to watch Obama’s motorcade pull up to Amway Center.

Another two dozen Pulse victims are still hospitalized at Orlando Regional Medical Center, six in critical condition. A dozen have been discharged from ORMC, where the majority of the victims were taken because it’s just down the street from the gay nightclub.

The low-profile visit is something Obama has had to do many times since entering the White House.

Obama and Biden departed OIA just before 5 p.m.


Bay News 9 – local-news

June 16, 2016 |

Orlando victims, medical personnel recount ‘chaotic’ Sunday

Comments Off on Orlando victims, medical personnel recount ‘chaotic’ Sunday

The team of doctors, nurses and medical professionals at Orlando Health on Tuesday described the early morning hours Sunday at Pulse nightclub as "chaotic" and a "war zone."

Here are some updates from this morning’s update, including the story from Angel Colon, a 26-year-old survivor of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

WATCH: Angel Colon describes horrors inside club



Update: 8:30 p.m.

Thousands crowded inside the University of Central Florida Student Union for a vigil to honor the victims of Sunday’s shooting at Pulse.

Two of the victims, went to UCF. Juan Ramon Guerrero was a pre-finance student, while Christopher Andrew Leinonen was an alumnus.

Storms couldn’t keep the mourners away as they gathered around UCF’s signature pegasus logo to pray and to mourn and to be inspired. They lined the upper floors of the cavern-like building to listen.

"Right now, take care of each other. Love each other," said former State Rep. Joe Saunders, who used to represent the UCF area.

Update: 8 p.m.

Orlando City Soccer has released its memorial plans for Sunday’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The team had said Tuesday that they would not do any of their regular promotions, instead focusing entirely on honoring the victims of the shooting last Sunday.

The plan includes:

  • Ticket donations will be made for first responders and support service personnel
  • Moment of silence during the game
  • Special #OrlandoUnited t-shirts for sale, along with gameday posters for $ 5 donations, with all net proceeds going to the OneOrlando Fund
  • Team members will wear comemorative patches
  • Permanent rainbow memorial in section 12 of the new stadium
  • Additional $ 100,000 donation from the Orlando City Foundation to the One Orlando Fund

Orlando City also announced it would be a title sponsor for Orlando Pride Week in October.

Update: 6:30 p.m.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings says Orange Avenue could be shut down another week as FBI investigates.

Update: 5:10 p.m.

The Equality Florida GoFundMe page continues to break records.

Since opening Sunday, the fundraiser for the victim’s of the attack at Pulse has raised nearly $ 4 million — $ 3.7 million in fact, at the time of this writing.

GoFundMe says the page has broken the record for largest campaign ever by more than $ 1 million.

Meanwhile, the new One Orlando Fund established by the city has already raised nearly $ 2 million from big donors alone. The city says the money will be used to help the community right now and in cases going forward.

Take a look at the top donors for both campaigns.

Update: 4:20 p.m.

Omar Mateen’s father spoke again to the media Tuesday.

Seddique Mateen said he spoke to his son’s wife, Noor Salman and his grandson, but would not comment on reports that she is being investigated as part of the plot.

Seddique Mateen was asked today if he thought his son was gay, and all he said was people have a right to do what they choose.
He brought up an unprompted topic during the interview — saying the Pulse nightclub should have had better security, and that would have stopped his son from killing so many people.

"Yes that would have been very good," Mateen said. "It would have eliminated him, and this tragedy would not have happened."

Mateen also said he did not know his son had purchased the weapons.

Update: 2:28 p.m.

Angel Santiago said that while everything was happening too fast during the terror shooting at the Pulse nightclub, he was thinking about his family.

He said that when the attack first started, he thought it would be over soon once he was in the bathroom along with other club goers, but he soon realized it wouldn’t be when the shoots were getting louder and closer to the bathroom.

"I consider myself lucky to be here today," a recovering Santiago said from a hospital bed in Orlando Regional Medical Center in front of the media.

He also spoke about how much he liked the Pulse and how it made him feel protected.

"Being a gay man and going to a gay club like Pulse, it’s a safe haven. I can’t go into a regular club because there is hate everywhere," Santiago said. "(The Pulse) is your safe zone."

Just like Patience Carter, he is from Philadelphia, but he moved to Orlando in October.

Both were taken to Florida Hospital on Sunday.

Update: 1:59 p.m.

In an emotional retelling of the horrific events in the Pulse, Patience Carter explained how she was prepared to die on the bathroom floor of the nightclub.

"We were all having the night that we dreamed of. … We went form the time of our lives to the worst night in our lives in a matter of minutes," she recalled.

She said that she lay wounded on the floor of a bathroom stall along with her two friends. She said that she overhear shooter Omar Mateen tell 911 that he was doing this because he wanted American to stop bombing his country and he pledged allegiance to ISIS.

She also recounted how Mateen said that there were other people involved with the night’s attack and that he had snipers outside.

"I honestly feel like he couldn’t pull that off by himself," she recalled from a hospital bed in Orlando Regional Medical Center in front of the media.

She said it was chaotic when the SWAT team burst through the way and there was gunfire everywhere. Once it was done, she looked for her friends.

One of Carter’s friends, Akyra Monet Murray, laid on the bathroom floor, breathing, but not moving. She picked up her friend’s phone, thinking she can give it to her at the hospital.

Later she would learn that Murray, the youngest of the victims at 18, died.

Carter suffered severe leg injuries.

Update: 1:01 p.m.

In a speech to the nation about the Orlando shooting that has left 49 victims dead and 53 wounded, President Barack Obama said that "anti-Muslim rhetoric" from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is not what America is based on, reported the Associated Press.

The president attacked Trump for suggesting there be a temporary ban on Muslims from entering America.

"In my speech on protecting America I spoke about a temporary ban, which includes suspending immigration from nations tied to Islamic terror," Trump mentioned in a tweet on Monday.

The president said that talk like that makes Muslim-Americans feel like their government is against them.

Obama also called for Congress to pass tougher gun laws and to renew the assault weapons ban, according to CNN.

"We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents," Obama said.

Update: 12 p.m.

One of the nurses who cared for Angel Colon described the night as "chaotic."

Colon looked up to the nurse, and said: "I love you guys.’

Added Cheatham: "The nurses are the true caregivers. … The nurses did a phenomenal job."

Dr. Chadwick Smith, of Orlando Health, added: "It was singularly the worst day of my career and the best day of my career."

Smith said the scene was "patient after patient after patient."

"They would just operate and as soon as the room was done, they would move the patient and send me another one," Smith said.

Dr. Joseph Ibrahim described the hospital like a war zone. He said victims were coming in with wounds to the chest, abdomen and pelvis areas.

Update: 11:15 a.m.

Dr. Michael Cheatham, of Orlando Regional Medical Center, said disasters are something they plan for. But nothing like Sunday.

"All trauma centers around the world (plan for disasters," Cheatham said. "You can never prepare adequately. This was the largest disaster that we probably could have imagined."

Update: 11 a.m.

Forty-four people were brought to Orlando Regional Medical Center during the early morning hours Sunday. Nine died within the first few minutes of arriving at the hospitals.

Thirty-five victims were cared for, and 27 remain hospitalized as of 11:30 a.m., according to Dr. Michael Cheatham, of Orlando Health.

Six remain in critical condition.

Update: 10:45 a.m.

Angel Colon, of Polk County, said he was inside the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning with hundreds of other people as the night was coming to a close.

It was shortly after 2 a.m. as they were saying their goodbyes.

"It was a great night," Colon said Tuesday morning from Orlando Regional Medical Center. "No drama, just smiles, just laughter."

Then shots rang out. Lots of shots.

Colon said he started running but fell to the ground when he was shot three times in the leg.

"I fell down. I got trampled over," he said. "I tried to get back up, but everyone started running everywhere. I got trampled over and I shattered and broke my bones on my left leg. By this time, I couldn’t walk at all. All I could do is just lay down there while everyone was just running on top of me — trying to get to where they had to be."

Colon said he felt safe for a brief moment because he heard the gunman go into another room, but then 29-year-old Omar Mateen came back and started spraying more bullets.

"He’s shooting everyone that’s already dead on the floor making sure they’re dead," Colon recalled.

Colon said Mateen then shot the girl next to him and then fired more shots at him.

"I’m just there laying thinking I’m next, I’m dead," Colon said.

Bullets were then fired at Colon’s head, he said. They missed, but struck him in the hand and the hip. He pretended to be dead so he could try and make it out of the nightclub alive.

Colon recalls Mateen then continued to fire rounds for the next five to 10 minutes.

Colon said he thinks Mateen then went to the front of the nightclub and engaged in a shootout with law enforcement.

That’s when an Orlando Police officer got to Colon.

This is how Colon recounted the next few moments: "I’m looking up and some cops — which I wish I can remember his face or his name, because to this day I’m grateful for him. He looks at me and makes sure that I’m alive and he grabs my hand and says this is the only way I can take you out. I said, ‘Please carry me because I’m in pain right now.’ I couldn’t walk or anything. So he starts to drag me out across the street to the Wendy’s and I’m grateful for him, but the floor is just covered in glass. So he’s dragging me out while I’m getting cut on my behind, my back, my legs. I don’t feel pain, but I just feel all this blood on me from myself, from other people. He just drops me off across the street and I look over and there’s just bodies everywhere. We’re all in pain. We were able to get to the ambulance and they brought us over (to Orlando Regional Medical Center)."

Bay News 9 – local-news

June 14, 2016 |

Pulse shooting victims were from all walks of life

Comments Off on Pulse shooting victims were from all walks of life

A Universal Orlando employee, a man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, a telemarketer, a musician.

As grieving relatives and friends await word on those still missing after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the identified victims from the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando are being remembered as caring, warm and proud.

The early Sunday tragedy at the popular gay club claimed the lives of at least 49 people. More than 25 others remain hospitalized.

Some were part of Central Florida’s nightlife and theme park crowd. Some were students or professionals. Some had moved to Orlando to make a better life or to help their families. Others were active in the gay community in Central Florida.

As more information becomes available, we will continue to add notes about the victims.

Here are the victims who have been identified:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Caring, energetic, known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises. Worked for a company that held gay cruises. "He was just always part of the fun."

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

A pharmacy technician. His mother made him a tomato and cheese dip the night of the shooting. He never got to eat it. He loved his family.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

A dancer and a barista at a Kissimmee area Starbucks. He was called a ray of sunshine by many. "He lit up any area he worked in, especially Starbucks."

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

He worked as a telemarketer and recently started attending the University of Central Florida. "He was like a big brother to me."

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

He moved to Florida from Puerto Rico for a chance at a better life. He rarely went out, but he was attending a friend’s house-warming celebration at Pulse that night.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

His Facebook page said he worked at UPS in Orlando. Known among his friends and family as "Ommy," he was the life of the party. "Such a happy soul," a friend wrote.

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Worked at the Harry Potter ride at Universal and was an EMS student at Seminole State College. He had superstar fans. "I can’t stop crying," Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted.

Kimberly Morris, 37

A bouncer at Pulse nightclub who always donned a smile. She was a fan of basketball and recently moved from Hawaii to Florida to help her mother and grandmother.

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

An accountant who lived in downtown Orlando. He texted his mother from the club: "Mommy I love you. … In the club they shooting." His phone then went silent.

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29


Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32


Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21


Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25


Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35


Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50


Amanda Alvear, 25

She was at the club with friends. Was studying to become a nurse. Described by her family as a loving person who simply wanted to help people.

Martin Benitez Torres, 33


Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37


Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26


Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35

Left behind a young son who just graduated from pre-kindergarten. Described as hard-working, talkative and friendly.

Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25


Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31


Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26


Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25

Known as an angel to most people. "He was a great person with a heart of gold," Christine Jimenez, a cousin, wrote on Facebook.

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30


Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40


Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32


Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

He was studying to be an accountant. "He loved life," friend Judith Reynoso said. "He never believed in sadness because he was always laughing." Loved the gym and photography.

Cory James Connell, 21


Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37


Luis Daniel Conde, 39


Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Lead vocalist for "Frequency Band." His Facebook bio read: "Ordinary guy living an extraordinary life using my God given gift to navigate through this journey."

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25


Jerald Arthur Wright, 31


Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

He recently had found a job as a leasing agent for an Orlando apartment complex. "He had finally found something he liked. He was taking care of his mom."

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25


Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24

Moved to Florida to work for Telemundo. He was a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "Jonathan will be missed dearly."

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27


Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33


Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49


Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24


Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32


Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28


Frank Hernandez, 27


Paul Terrell Henry, 41


Antonio Davon Brown, 29

Attended Florida A&M University and studied criminal justice. He was a member of ROTC while in college and was a captain in the U.S. Army.

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24


Akyra Monet Murray, 18


Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25


Sources: The Associated Press and CNN.

Bay News 9 – local-news

June 13, 2016 |

Vigils across the state held for victims of Pulse shooting

Comments Off on Vigils across the state held for victims of Pulse shooting

At least 50 people have been killed, and 53 injured at an Orlando nightclub shooting, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

    • At least 50 killed in Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando
    • Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce identified as gunman
    • AR-15 assault rifle used in slayings
    • Gunman legally purchased 2 guns in Florida in the past few days
    • Mateen was investigated by FBI in 2011, 2012
    • Hotline for concerned family members: 407-246-4357
    • OneBlood asking for blood donations
    • FBI seeking tips, information: 1-800-CALL-FBI
    • Meeting place for families: Hampton Inn & Suites, Orlando/Downtown, 43 Columbia St., 407-270-6460
    • Orange Avenue will be closed from Kaley Avenue to Grant Street through Monday
    • Obama orders public flags at half-staff till sundown Thursday
    • Gov. Rick Scott asking for a moment of silence at 6 p.m. tonight
    • City of Orlando has set up a website where they are identifying victims

A gunman, Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce, opened fire inside Pulse nightclub, a gay club, early Sunday morning.

Many of the injured were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called it an act of terrorism.

The FBI has taken the lead on the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI Hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI.


Update: 9:15 p.m.:

While the loss of life is staggering, residents can at least find solace knowing that club goers and first responders were able to save some lives with some simple acts of bravery.

“I see behind me there’s a bunch of people falling and screaming and then you’re hearing that bang bang,” said witness Christopher Hansen, who was inside Pulse when the shooting started.

More than half of the people at the club escaped with their lives, while dozens more were injured, and carried out to safety.

“They were just screaming ‘get out get out,’" said Hansen, "but you know when you see somebody laying there, bleeding, you can’t just leave them.”

Hansen helped carry victims to paramedics and tended to others lying on the ground with injuries.

“I put him over my shoulder and got him across the street,” said Hansen.

The identities of the victims are being released as the next of kin are notified. Officials tell us that many of the bodies remain in the Pulse nightclub as they continue to process the crime scene.

Update: 7:54 p.m.:

Lew Oliver, the chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee, released the following statement:

The Orange County Republican Party offers its deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families and friends of today’s unfathomable tragedy in Orlando. There is nothing appropriate to say of a political nature at such a moment, and I do not plan to do so in the future.  I have asked our members to offer their prayers and kind wishes to all of those who have suffered a loss today.  We are all Americans, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children or friends of someone dear to us.  Every life is precious and every thoughtful wish and prayer helps.  

Lew Oliver, Chairman

Orange County Republican Executive Committee

Update: 7:40 p.m.:

The Orlando Police Department shared on their Twitter account an email sent by Chief John Mina to OPD personnel:

Update: 7:31 p.m.:

Pulse co-founder Barbara Poma issued the following statement on the Pulse shooting:

Update: 6:53 p.m.:

Vice President Joe Biden has issued the following statement on the Pulse nightclub shooting:

Last night, at least fifty innocent people gathering to celebrate love and life were brutally killed in an act of pure hate and unspeakable terror. Scores of others were injured in the attack. They were our brothers and our sisters; our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. In the coming days, we will learn more about these fifty souls and the lives they lived and the world they made better.

As the President made clear, we are closely monitoring and fully involved in the investigation of the country’s worst mass shooting. We are grateful for the heroic actions of the Orlando Police, first responders—and many bystanders—who charged into danger and saved lives; who rushed the wounded to hospitals in ambulances, in police cars, in the backs of pickup trucks, and carried others to safety. As in the midst of so much evil, their acts are a reminder of the best in our common humanity.

Jill and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences for all those affected by today’s horrific events. But our prayers are not enough to end these kinds of senseless mass shootings. The violence is not normal, and the targeting of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is evil and abhorrent.

Our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are still gathering the facts, and we do not yet know what, if any, connection or inspiration there may be with terrorist organizations. But we do know this—we will never rest in our relentless campaign to bring to justice all who would do America harm. And even as we grieve and pursue justice, no act of terror—no despicable act of hate—can tear us asunder. Times of unspeakable tragedy and evil like this are the moments to remind the killers, and the world, of what is best in us, and what unites us.

May God give strength to the families, friends, and all those who grieve today, with broken hearts, but unbound resolve. And may God continue to watch over our great nation.

Update: 5:40 p.m.:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the lights of One World Trade Center’s spire to be displayed in rainbow colors tonight in solidarity with the LGBT community.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest thoughts and prayers to those affected by this horrendous tragedy," he said in a statement.

Update: 5 p.m.:

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, the gunman who opened fire inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, graduated from Indian River State College in 2006 with an associate of science degree in criminal justice, a spokesman for the school told News 13.

Meanwhile, the lockdown at Orlando Regional Medical Center has been lifted, and the level 1 trauma center is accepting patients normally. The hospital previously was only accepting patients into its emergency department because of a lockdown.

Update: 3:20 p.m.:

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, the gunman who opened fire inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, killing at least 50 and wounding dozens, was known by the FBI since 2011, according to an agent who spoke during a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Mateen, 29, made inflammatory remarks to coworkers, insinuating he had terrorist ties, and the FBI interviewed him twice. The next year, Mateen came to the FBI’s attention again, when he made comments insinuating he had an allegiance to American suicide bomber Moner Mohammad Abusalha. They determined that their contact was minimal and didn’t constitute a substantial relationship or threat at the time.

Mateen made a 911 call from Florida referencing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called the shooting "the most difficult day in the history of Orlando."

Eleven Orlando Police officers exchanged gunfire with Mateen, Police Chief John Mina said. All have been relieved of duty pending a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation, which is standard practice in officer-involved shootings. Additionally, three Orange County deputies were involved and also have been relieved pending a standard investigation.

Gov. Rick Scott has asked for a moment of silence at 6 p.m. "to mourn the loss of life and pray for those still fighting for their life, and their loved ones."

Mateen called the News 13 newsroom hours before the shooting at Pulse nightclub.

The City of Orlando has set up a website where they are identifying victims.

List of victims identified so far:

  • 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

Update: 2:45 p.m.:

President Barack Obama has ordered flags at half-staff until sunset Thursday, June 16, for all public buildings and grounds.

The Associated Press is reporting that the gunman in the Pulse nightclub shooting, Omar Mateen, held a firearms license since at least 2011 that was set to expire in September 2017.

Orlando Regional Medical Center officials say victims’ wounds were from an assault rifle and were to the trunk, extremeties and abdomen. Forty-four adults were admitted, and nine died after they were admitted. Hospital officials said that reports that a gunman breaching hospital emergency department security were not accurate, and that didn’t occur.

ORMC is still on lockdown for visitors, but the emergency department is accepting patients.

Update: 2 p.m.:

President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the deadly shooting in Orlando.


The Associated Press reports that the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, was known to the FBI and had been looked at by agents in the past few years, according to a law enforcement official.

Facebook says the Orlando shooting marks the first time its Safety Check feature was used in the United States. Safety Check allows residents in an area to notify their Facebook friends and contacts that they are safe or not safe.

Tonight’s Tony Awards have been dedicated to the City of Orlando.

Update: 1:15 p.m.:

Gov. Scott was briefed on the shooting early Sunday morning, before making his way to Orlando.

“This is clearly an act of terrorism,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “It’s sickening. It should make every American angry.”

During a press conference, Gov. Scott praised the hard work of local and other law enforcement agencies. He said he declared a state of emergency for Florida to ensure everyone would have the resources needed.

Gov. Scott’s Office released the following statement:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and all those affected by this horrific tragedy. We are a strong and resilient state and we will devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando. Our state emergency operations center is also monitoring this tragic incident. I have been in constant communication with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and state and local law enforcement this morning. I would like to also thank all the first responders who quickly came to assist and help those in need."

Update Noon:

The White House says President Barack Obama will deliver a message about the shooting in Orlando at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Orlando Police have moved their next news conference to 2 p.m. EDT.

Update: 11 a.m.:

A state of emergency has been declared for the City of Orlando and the State of Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott is en route to Orlando and will hold a news conference shortly.

Update: 10:38 a.m.:

The White House issued this statement from Vice President Joe Biden’s spokesperson:

The Vice President was briefed this morning by his national security advisor on the heinous attack that took place overnight at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vice President Biden 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.  He is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to receive regular updates as we know more.

Update: 10:30 a.m.:

The shooting at Pulse nightclub became the worst mass shooting in U.S. history after law enforcement officers were able to enter the club and secure the scene and found at least 50 bodies inside.

Officers who have been on the force for decades "were shaken by what they saw," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a news conference. "This is absolutely one of the worst tragedies we’ve ever seen."

"Fifty people are dead, and 53 injured, but thousands upon thousands feel some degree of fear. It could have happened to any one at any time. That’s the nature of terrorism," Rep. Alan Grayson said.

Mina said the shooting was was done by a single assault rifle. Initial gunfire occurred just after 2 a.m., and the gunman exchanged gunfire with SWAT officers at about 5 a.m. SWAT officers rescued at least 30 people from the club.

One officer was struck in the head, but his kevlar helmet saved his life. The officer is being treated for facial injuries.

"When evil comes to our community like this, we will respond in force," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

The FBI is asking anyone who attended the club but left before the shooting to come forward and offer any information.

An Orlando Regional Medical Center trauma surgeon said six trauma surgeons and a pediatric surgeon were called in per mass casualty protocols. There are a number of victims in surgery, and many of the shooting victims brought to ORMC were critically ill.

The White House has been contacted about the mass shooting.

"This was an hour of horror brought upon our city," said Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. "I call on my fellow faith leaders… please pray for victims and their families in this hour. It was supposed to be a beautiful morning, but it’s already been heartbreaking.

"No one could have predicted this. No one could have prepared for this. It’s like lightning."

Update: 10:12 a.m.:

The Pulse nightclub shooter has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, an American citizen. He’s in his late 20s.

Update (9:55 a.m.):

The Center of Orlando will have grief counselors available for those affected by the shooting.

Update (9:21 a.m.):

The White House released the following statement in regards to the Pulse nightclub shooting:

"The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victimes. The President asked to received regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community."

Update (8:42 a.m.):

Lockdown lifted for Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.

Update (7:03 a.m.):

During a new conference, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said as many as 20 people are dead inside the Pulse nightclub. At least 42 people were transported to area hospitals and as many as 30 people were rescued from the nightclub.

The gunman is not from the area, police said, and investigators are working to identify him. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the agency could not confirm whether the shooter was a U.S. citizen.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the shooting is being investigated as a domestic terrorist incident.

According to Mina, an Orlando officer was working at the Pulse nightclub at about 2 a.m. when the shooting happened. That officer engaged in a gun battle with the suspect at the club. The gunman closed the doors to the club, and the shooting became a hostage situation from there.

At about 5 a.m., law enforcement made the decision to rescue the hostages inside the club. A distraction explosion was set off to aid in the rescue. As many as 30 people were rescued, according to police.

Police said an assault rifle and a handgun was found with the gunman. He also had some sort of device on him, and investigators are trying to determine what it is.

At least nine OPD officers were involved in the shooting. One officer was injured but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The FBI is taking the lead on the investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will assist with the officer-involved shooting portion of the investigation.

"Many lives were lost," said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer during the news conference. "Many lives were impacted by the crime they witnessed."

Earlier (5:30 a.m.):

A man responsible for a mass shooting inside an Orlando nightclub early Sunday is dead and dozens of people are injured, according to Orlando police.

According to investigators, the gunman opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub located at South Orange Avenue and Kaley Avenue at about 2 a.m.

According to witnesses, a man pulled out a gun near the entrance and opened fire on people inside. Some witnesses say the gunman closed the front doors and kept shooting.

He fled the scene but continued to fire shots as he headed down the street toward Orlando Regional Medical Center. 

ORMC was then put on lockdown. Reportedly other hospitals in the area, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, are also on lockdown.

Hours later, Orlando police confirmed that the gunman was dead. Police also said the shooting is a mass casualty situation.

Pulse Orlando posted on its official Facebook page earlier this morning: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies reportedly responded to the scene, including the Orlando Fire Department’s bomb squad.

Several law enforcement agencies patrolling the area after a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, June 12, 2016.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion, but police say it was a controlled explosion law enforcement.

Orlando police are urging everyone to stay out of the area.

According to people who were inside the club at the time of the shooting, people were running and screaming when shots were fired.  Concerned family members and friends began arriving to ORMC to find out if their loved ones were OK.

"My son hasn’t been heard from," said one mother. "So I don’t know if he was left in the club, if he got shot or if he’s being worked on here. I don’t know."

Police are urging anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to contact the Orlando Police Department.

Pulse is a predominately gay nightclub that is very popular in the area.

This shooting comes after the fatal shooting Friday night of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie after a performance in Orlando.

Bay News 9 – local-news

June 12, 2016 |
Vantage Theme – Powered by WordPress.
Skip to toolbar