August 5, 2021


Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting: About 20 dead, police say

A gunman took people hostage overnight inside Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where approximately 50 people were killed and 42 were taken to the hospital, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a morning news conference.

The gunman, who has not been identified, was carrying an assault rifle, a handgun and a “device.” The Orange County Sheriff;s Office hazardous device team is now searching the area.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the investigation. Agents say they cannot rule this out as an act of domestic terrorism and that the suspect, who is not from Orlando, may have leanings toward extreme ideologies.

Dozens of emergency vehicles surrounded the chaotic scene at the club at 1912 S. Orange Ave. after the 2 a.m. shooting and rescue squads were transporting multiple victims to area hospitals.

Witnesses said they heard at least 40 shots fired inside the club and estimated that at least 20 people had been shot.

Police reported just before 6 a.m. that the shooter inside the club was dead. Mina said his officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect in two shootings. Nine officers were involved in the shooting and one sustained an injury to his head and was saved by his helmet.

The Orlando Fire Department called for its bomb squad and hazardous material team to the scene after 3 a.m. Police K-9 dogs are searching the area around nearby Orlando Regional Medical Center with an armed deputy in head-to-toe military gear.

Emergency workers were seen taking victims away from the scene in large trucks–in one case, an emergency worker was doing chest compressions on one of the victims.

Just after the shooting, Pulse Orlando’s posted a note to its own page that said, “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.” The popular gay bar was full of people at the time of the incident.

Emotional witnesses and family members of those who were in the club surrounded the area around the club after the shooting, that one witness said lasted the duration of an entire song.

Javer Antonetti, 53, went out to the club with his brother. He was towards the back of the room when he heard shots ring out. “There were so many, at least 40,” he said. “I saw two guys and it was constant, like ‘pow, pow, pow,’ ” he said. He said he ran out of the club. His brother is on crutches and was stuck inside. Antonetti said authorities were able to help save his brother, who he says is uninjured but still near the club. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “Police told me he’s safe but he’s still stuck back there.” He’s waiting near Orlando Regional Medical Center. Antonetti noticed when he made it out safe that he has blood smears on his shirt. He said he doesn’t know how they got there and didn’t see how many were injured.

Another witness, Rosie Feba, said she took her girlfriend to the club for the first time Saturday night. It was near closing time.

“She told me someone was shooting. Everyone was getting on the floor,” Feba said. “I told her I didn’t think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun.”

Feba and her girlfriend ran out of the club. On the way out, they saw a man who had been shot.

Feba grabbed him. Others around her called 911. Some of the man’s blood stained the sleeve of her striped T-shirt.

Both Feba and her girlfriend were unharmed, but shaken. They waited in a CVS parking lot for more information.

Christopher Hansen just moved to Orlando about two months ago. He went to the club to meet someone, where they were hosting a Latin night. The 32-year-old was near the front door of the bar when the shooting started.

He also heard more than 40 shots and estimated that more than 20 people had been hit by gunfire. He said even after most of the people inside vacated the bar the shooting continued. Police were yelling for him and others to get out. Hansen saw police marked wounded victims with yellow and red tags.

-Christal Hayes and Gal Tziperman Lotan

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

Source: Orlando Sentinel