Our country suffered another horrible mass shooting this weekend. Here's what we know so far.
A 29-year-old walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida called Pulse around 2:00 A.M. on Sunday, and opened fire with an assault rifle and a semi-automatic Glock pistol. He murdered 50 people, and injured at least 53 more. Then there was a three-hour standoff before the police busted in around 5:00 A.M. and killed him. It's the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
The shooter is a U.S. citizen who was born in New York, and lived here his whole life. His parents are from Afghanistan. But he called 911 during the attack to pledge his allegiance to ISIS, and also mentioned the Boston bombers. He's actually been on the FBI's watch list for several years, but the FBI cleared him in 2014 and decided he wasn't a threat.
ISIS took credit for the attack yesterday, but it's not clear if they ordered it, or they're just claiming it since the guy was one of their followers. Even though he was on the FBI's watch list, the shooter was able to legally buy the assault rifle he used in the attack 12 days ago, probably because he'd been working as a security guard a couple hours south of Orlando, in Fort Pierce, Florida.
The shooter’s father told reporters his son may've targeted the gay nightclub because he got angry earlier this year when he saw two men kissing in Miami. He also doesn't think his son was motivated by radical Islamic beliefs. He said, "This has nothing to do with religion . . . we are in shock like the whole country."
The shooter married a woman from Uzbekistan in 2009, and she told reporters he had a history with mental illness and steroids and used to BEAT her. So she left him after four months. And she says his religion didn't play a role in the attack either.
As for the attack itself, he started shooting right after last call, and the place was still packed. There were over 300 people inside for a 'Latin' night during gay pride month. So it was dark, and some people were confused by the sound of gunshots while loud music was playing.
A lot of witness described a scene sort of like the terrorist attack at the rock concert in Paris back in November. And just like that attack, there are a lot of stories about people escaping, hiding and doing whatever they could to help people who were hurt.
The first to respond was a cop who was on extra duty at the club. He and two cops nearby exchanged gunfire with the shooter. Then the guy went back inside, and the standoff started. When the police finally busted in, 30 more people escaped.
Thirty nine people were found dead at the club and another 11 were taken to hospitals and pronounced dead there. And it all happened just four miles from where a contestant from “The Voice,” Christina Grimmie, was shot and killed on Friday.
If you want to help out, there's a GoFundMe page for the victims and their families which has already raised over $1.2 million.