Sunday, June 12, 2016

Shooting at Orlando Nightclub Kills About 20, Police Say
New York Times
JUNE 12, 2016

About 20 people were killed and at least 42 people were wounded when a gunman armed with an assault rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a downtown Orlando nightclub about 2 a.m., Police Chief John Mina said.

The police said they had classified the attack as a “terror incident.” The gunman was not from the Orlando area and was organized and well-prepared, they said.

The gunman was found dead inside the Pulse nightclub, one of the largest in Orlando, about 5 a.m. after a shootout with the police, Chief Mina said.

The chief said it was difficult to assess the number of clubgoers who were killed because, as of 7:15 a.m., many of the bodies had not been removed.

The shooting began inside the club, the chief said, and continued outside when an officer working at Pulse attempted to confront him. The gunman then went back into the club, resumed shooting and took hostages.

At 5 a.m., Chief Mina said, the police decided to rescue the hostages, detonating a “controlled explosion” to help clear the club. At least nine officers were involved in the shooting with the gunman. One of them was slightly injured, the authorities said.

The police called it a “mass casualty” event. The wounded were taken to three area hospitals.

The police also said the gunman was carrying a “device,” and that officers were searching the club for possible explosives.

On its Twitter feed, the Police Department asked residents to “stay away from area” and said that it was seeking support from local state and federal agencies. Later, employees in the area were asked to stay home if possible.

The club itself posted a message on its Facebook page about 3 a.m.: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

Customers streamed out of the club into a chaotic situation with little idea of where to go. “Cops were saying, ‘Go, go, clear the area,’ ” Christopher Hansen told an Orlando television station. “You don’t know who’s what and who’s where.”

As the sun came up, helicopter-shot video showed a situation that seemed to be under control, although windows on one side of the club appeared to be shot out.

Phone camera videos shot at the scene show police cars, ambulances and other emergency vehicles outside the club on South Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Streets around the the club were shut down for several blocks.

In one video, shots could clearly be heard as men and women ran from Pulse. Some of the clubgoers told local television reporters that the music was so loud it was difficult, at first, to distinguish the shots from the pulsing beat.

More than 100 people were believed inside the club when the shooting began about 2 a.m.

Many of the wounded were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, about three blocks from the club, which was placed on lockdown after receiving several gunshot victims. “Only essential workers are being allowed access into the building,” the hospital said in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital have also been placed on lockdown,” the statement added.

On Pulse’s Facebook page, club officials promised to post updates as they came in: “As soon as we have any information, we will update everyone.”

“Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event,” the nightclub post said. “Thank you for your thoughts and love.”

Local television stations broadcast interviews with people outside the club and the Orlando Regional Medical Center, about three blocks away from the club, anxiously waiting to hear from people who they said were still inside.

WKMG and WESH broadcast interviews with the crowds milling outside the hospital. One woman said she rushed to the area after she got a call from her daughter, who said, “Please come get us and come get us now.”

One mother told CNN: “A girlfriend of my son called and said he got shot, he got shot and she was crying.”

She said could not find her son, or even get information on where he had been taken. Some of the victims had been transferred to other hospitals “because this hospital was full,” she said outside Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The club, which calls itself “Orlando’s Latin Hotspot,” hosts an “Upscale Latin Saturdays” party on Saturday night with three D.J.s and a midnight show.

No comments: