A gunman behind the killing of 50 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub early Sunday has reportedly been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent.
Police stormed the building, fatally shooting the suspect and rescuing club-goers trapped inside, another 53 people were wounded.
An FBI official said the mass shooting is being investigated as an “act of terrorism.”
The White House issued a statement indicating President Barack Obama has been briefed by his counterterrorism and homeland security advisor and has asked to receive regular updates.
The statement said the president ordered the federal government to provide investigators with “any assistance necessary.” It also said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims.”
On the gay club’s Facebook page, a post around 2 a.m. gave early indication of the tragedy that was unfolding.
“Everyone get out of pulse,” a page administrator wrote, “and keep running.”
The FBI is investigating. Asked whether the shooting was tied to Islamic terrorism, FBI Assistant Special Agent Ronald Hopper said the agency has “suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology.”
Why the club was targeted remains unclear. The shooting comes as many cities around the world celebrate June as LGBT Pride Month.
The mass shooting follows another grim night in Orlando. Singer Christina Grimmie, a 22-year-old YouTube star and one-time contestant of the TV talent show “The Voice,” was fatally shot by a man during a meet-and-greet session with fans outside her concert in the same city Friday night. Kevin James Loibl, 27, was arrested in connection with her death.