An Muslim man who’d pledged allegiance to ISIS gunned down 50 people early Sunday at a homosexual nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11, authorities said.
* The gunman, Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 but was not found to be a threat, the FBI said.
* Mateen called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official.
* Orlando police shot and killed Mateen.
Mateen carried an assault rifle a pistol and a Koran into the packed Pulse club about 2 a.m. Sunday and started shooting, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53, police said.
After a standoff of about three hours, while people trapped inside the club desperately called and messaged friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed Mateen.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said early Sunday. Authorities said they haven’t found any accomplices and are investigating local mosques for links.
A message posted in Arabic on a dark web site associated with the ISIS news agency Amaq said “the armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida and that bore more than a 100 killed and wounded was carried out by an Islamic state fighter.”
At a Sunday afternoon news briefing, FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the agency was aware of Mateen. The FBI interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after he expressed sympathy for an Isalmic suicide bomber, Hopper said.
Christopher Hansen said he was getting a drink at the bar about 2 a.m. when he “just saw bodies going down.” He heard gunshots, “just one after another after another.”
The gunshots went on for so long that the shooting “could have lasted a whole song,” he said.
When the shots erupted, Hansen hit the ground, crawling on his elbows and knees, before he spotted a man who had been shot.
Also on Sunday, authorities in West Hollywood, California, took a middle eastern suspect into custody after discovering an arsenal in his car that included explosive powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit, CNN affiliate KABC reported, citing unnamed authorities.
The suspect told authorities he was there for the Los Angeles Pride festival, which is underway this weekend.