Orlando Nightclub Shooting: Mass Casualties After Gunman Opens Fire in Gay Club

From NBC News

Approximately 20 people are dead and scores wounded after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police said.

Officials said a hostage situation developed after the gunman stormed the Pulse Nightclub about 2 a.m Sunday. The assailant was shot dead about three hours later when a SWAT team entered the club, police said.

The incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

“We are looking at probably in the range of 20 [dead], but we don’t want to give you an exact figure,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

Police said a uniformed officer working extra duty engaged in a gun fight with the shooter after he opened fire at the entrance to the club. Mina said the incident then developed into a hostage situation.

“A little after 5 a.m. this morning we made the decision to go in on a rescue,” Mina said, adding that an officer was injured after being shot in the head.

“It appears his helmet saved his life,” he said. “So he has an injury to his eye, but it looks like the bullet did hit his helmet.”

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the incident “could definitely be classified as domestic terrorism.”

Revelers described scenes of horror inside the club. One witness told MSNBC that they had to crawl over bodies to escape.

A post to the club’s Facebook page at around 2 a.m. warned “everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.” Witness video from outside showed dozens of first responders at the scene, and several victims on the ground.

“It was tragic,” club-goer Christopher Hansen told MSNBC. “I wasn’t sure if it was the music, because … it went with the beat almost until you heard just too many shots.

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