The Latest: Gunman supported conflicting Islamic groups

Police say the person who opened fire inside a popular Orlando, Florida, nightclub is dead

Pulse Orlando Mass shooting
(Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The Latest on the shooting at an Orlando nightclub (all times local):

The City of Orlando is releasing names of victims on its website.

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10:05 a.m.

An official says the FBI is investigating reports that the Orlando massacre shooter had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps.

The U.S. official had been briefed on the investigation into 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday.

The comments follow reports and comments from patrons at the Orlando club Pulse that Mateen was a regular there and tried to pick up men. Previously, his Afghan-immigrant father had suggested Mateen may have acted out of anti-gay hatred, and said his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.

-Eric Tucker in Washington

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9:45 a.m.

The hospital treating those wounded in the shooting spree at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that left 49 victims dead plans to hold a news conference where doctors and patients will speak.

According to a news release from Orlando Regional Medical Center, eight surgeons will share their stories from the hours after the shooting began. Two patients will also recount their stories from that night.

The news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition to the 49 deaths, dozens more were wounded when Omar Mateen opened fire at a gay nightclub early Sunday. He was eventually killed in a shootout with police.

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9:30a.m.

The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she’s not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.

Sitora Yusufiy spoke to CNN on Tuesday from Denver.

She says: “When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past … that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him. … I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn’t want everybody to know about.”

The comments follow reports from customers at the gay nightclub that shooter Omar Mateen was seen there regularly. One told The Associated Press that Mateen tried to pick up men there.

Asked whether she thinks her ex-husband was gay, Yusufiy said: “I don’t know. He never personally or physically made any indications while we were together of that. But he did feel very strongly about homosexuality.”

She says it’s possible he hid feelings about being gay.

The couple were married in 2009 and divorced two years later. She has said he was abusive.

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9:30 a.m.

Three Democrats in Congress say it was “unacceptable” that gay and bisexual men weren’t able to donate blood after the shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub.

As hundreds rushed to blood banks after the shooting, rumors spread that no one would be turned away. However, the FDA bars blood donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley’s office issued a statement calling for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “lift this prejudicial ban.” Quigley is the vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. California Rep. Barbara Lee and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin also signed the statement.

They say the Orlando shooting shows “how crucial it is for FDA to develop better blood donor policies that are based on science and on individual risk factors.”

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7:40 a.m.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh (jay) Johnson says Republican Donald Trump’s proposal for a ban on immigration from countries with terrorist histories is impractical.

While declining to name Trump, Johnson condemned “overly simplistic suggestions” for dealing with the violence.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Johnson defended President Barack Obama against Trump’s charge that Obama has been too passive on the issue.

Johnson said that “I know from working with him for seven years that the president’s No. 1 priority is the protection of Americans.”

He added that authorities throughout the government continually reassess whether their strategy to combat this violence needs to be changed.

Johnson told ABC that protecting U.S. from attack is increasingly complicated in an era of “self-radicalization.”  He said “there’s no indication” the Orlando attack was “terrorist-directed.”

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7:25 a.m.

Officials with an agency that collects blood donations across much of Florida continue to urge people to give blood in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

Potential donors are asked to make appointments at their local blood banks.

OneBlood officials posted videos on Facebook showing snacks and beverages donated for people waiting in long lines to give blood. Spokeswoman Stephanie Zaurin says donors are coming “in record numbers.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Tara Goodin said in an email to The Associated Press that the Interorganizational Disaster Task Force met Sunday and ensured that all immediate needs for blood were met.

Goodwin said the agency appreciated the widespread desire to donate blood after the shooting at Pulse. She said scheduling appointments to donate blood “will help replenish the blood supply in an organized manner, without overwhelming the system.”

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7:10 a.m.

As they got back to work after the Sunday nightclub massacre, TV’s late-night hosts faced the challenge of how to acknowledge it.

As in past tragedies, the jokesters shifted gears. Several opened their shows with apologies for departing from their customary monologues, instead voicing shock and sorrow.

“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah pointed out that President Barack Obama has hosted 12 state dinners but 16 mass-shooting addresses. Noah raised the possibility that, without reasonable gun control, Obama should begin preparing Speech No. 17.

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert bemoaned “a national script” that seems to guide a nonproductive response to shootings. He declared that love could help Americans change that script.

Conan O’Brien, while noting that he had made a career-long policy of keeping political opinions to himself, expressed bewilderment that anyone is allowed to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle. He said, “These are weapons of war and they have no place in civilian life.”

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6:50 a.m.

The office of the U.N. human rights chief is decrying “insufficient gun control” in the United States and urging its leaders “to live up to its obligations to protect its citizens.”

In the wake of a gunman’s deadly attack on a Florida nightclub, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein criticized “irresponsible pro-gun propaganda” in the U.S. claiming that firearms make society safer, “when all evidence points to the contrary.” He questioned the ease with which people in the U.S. can obtain firearms and assault weapons like one used in Sunday’s attack.

Citing a U.N. report on firearms in April, Zeid pointed to examples of how control of firearms in many countries led to a “dramatic reduction in violent crime.”

Office spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters Tuesday in Geneva: “The problem is the guns.”

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5:20 a.m.

Jim Van Horn said he was a frequent patron at Orlando’s Pulse night club. He said another “regular” at the Florida gay bar was Omar Mateen, the man whose shooting rampage left 49 dead and dozens more wounded early Sunday in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Speaking to The Associated Press late Monday, 71-year-old Van Horn says he saw Mateen trying to pick up men at the club.

Van Horn said he met Mateen once. He said the younger man was telling him about his ex-wife.

Van Horn says some friends then called him away and told him they didn’t want him talking to Mateen because “they thought he was a strange person.”

Despite Mateen’s pledge of support to the Islamic State, other possible explanations emerged, including questions of whether he was conflicted about his sexuality.

His ex-wife said he suffered from mental illness. And his Afghan-immigrant father suggested he may have acted out of anti-gay hatred.

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3:15 a.m.

Thousands in Orlando are mourning 49 people killed inside a gay nightclub as federal investigators examine possible motives for the gunman who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The White House and the FBI said 29-year-old Omar Mateen, an American born Muslim, appears to be a “homegrown extremist” who had touted support not just for the Islamic State, but other radical groups that are its enemies.

Meanwhile, Mateen’s ex-wife says he suffered from mental illness. And his Afghan-immigrant father says his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered Monday night in downtown Orlando for a vigil to support victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting on the lawn of Orlando’s main performing arts venue.

3 p.m.

The head of the FBI and the Homeland Security secretary will brief members of the House on Tuesday about the deadly shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said he requested a members-only classified briefing. The briefers will be FBI Director James Comey, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and NCTC Director Nick Rasmussen.

The briefing comes after a gunman attacked a gay nightclub early Sunday. That attack left 50 people dead, including the shooter.

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2:40 p.m.

The FBI’s director says the agency is trying to determine whether the Orlando nightclub shooter had recently scouted Walt Disney World and other locations as potential targets.

Director James Comey made the comments at a Monday news conference about the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. When asked whether Disney and other locations had been scouted, Comey said, “We’re still working through that.”

He also said he wasn’t in a position to comment further.

People.com, citing an unnamed federal law enforcement source, reported that Omar Mateen had recently scouted the theme park. The report says he visited with his wife.

People.com said representatives for Walt Disney World didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

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2:30 p.m.

There will be a minute’s silence in all European Championship fan zones at 2:30 p.m. EDT Monday to honor the 49 people killed at an Orlando nightclub.

The Paris town hall press office says in a statement that the moment of silence will be a mark of support for the victims, their relatives and the American people as a whole.

The office says “the tribute will also be the occasion to reaffirm values of freedom, tolerance, living-together and sharing, which play a fundamental role in the world of football and sports.”

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2:15 p.m.

The FBI says the gunman who attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando called the Boston Marathon bombers his “homeboys.”

Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said Monday that Omar Mateen made the reference to brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev during a 911 call he made early Sunday while he was shooting people in the Pulse nightclub.

Shaw and Massachusetts state police say evidence collected so far shows no connection between Mateen and the Tsarnaev brothers.

The Tsarnaevs planted two bombs near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a getaway attempt several days later. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for his role in the bombings.

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2 p.m.

OneBlood officials continue to urge people to donate blood in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

Potential donors are asked to make appointments at their local blood banks.

OneBlood officials posted videos on Facebook showing snacks and beverages donated for people waiting in long lines to give blood. Spokeswoman Stephanie Zaurin says donors are coming “in record numbers.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Tara Goodin said in an email to The Associated Press that the Interorganizational Disaster Task Force met Sunday and ensured that all immediate needs for blood were met.

Goodwin said the agency appreciated the widespread desire to donate blood after the shooting. She said scheduling appointments to donate blood “will help replenish the blood supply in an organized manner, without overwhelming the system.”

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is writing to the governor of Florida and the mayor of Orlando to convey his condolences at “the horrific and hateful act of terror” that targeted the LGBT community.

Ban, a strong supporter of LGBT rights, said “such violence is despicable, and contrary to the values of equality, peace and mutual respect that underpin the United Nations,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

In the letters to Gov. Rick Scott and Mayor Buddy Dyer, the U.N. chief said “at this time of shock and sorrow, the United Nations stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and with the people of the United States,” according to Dujarric.

Ban condemned the attack in a statement on Sunday.

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1:30 p.m.

FBI Director James Comey says the Orlando nightclub shooter espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting Islamic organizations.

He said that shooter called 911 during the attack and not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with the Islamic State.

Comey says in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaida and its enemy Hezbollah.

The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.

Comey said investigators introduced him to confidential sources, followed him and reviewed some of his communications, but Mateen claimed he made the remarks in anger because co-workers were teasing and discriminating against him because he was Muslim.

As for whether the FBI should have done anything differently, Comey says so far he doesn’t think so.

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1:10 p.m.

Hospital officials say they are “very optimistic” that the nightclub shooting victims being treated at Orlando Regional Medical Center will recover.

Orlando Health officials tweeted Monday that they no longer need to give “major amounts of blood” to shooting victims.

The hospital says many survivors had “multiple high-velocity” gunshot wounds and many in the intensive care unit no longer need ventilators to breathe.

The hospital holds weekly trauma simulations, along with periodic large-scale, city-wide simulations. Officials say the training left the hospital well-stocked for mass casualties.

The trauma medical director, Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, says the only thing he would change is that more victims could have gotten to the hospital sooner so that that they could have saved more people.

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The world’s largest body of Muslim-majority nations has condemned the mass shooting in Orlando but also warned against “political campaigning and self-serving agendas” in the wake of the tragedy.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation said in a statement Monday that “the massacre, as terrible as it is, must not be taken out of its context as a domestic American case.”

The organization says it is concerned that “hasty judgment” and “Islamophobic discourse” have emerged before a full investigation into the motivations and causes of the attack that killed 49 people.

The organization also conveyed its condolences to the families of the victims of “this horrible act.”

It says the teachings of Islam are based on peace and tolerance, and that terrorism is a crime against humanity.

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Two men have been detained outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during a vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

People have been bringing flowers and rainbow flags to the embassy in central Moscow to show their solidarity with the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history since early morning.

An Associated Press reporter on Monday saw two young men take out a placard saying “Love wins” before police officers came up to them and took them away.

Russia passed a controversial law in 2013, banning the so-called propaganda of gay relationships among minors, which authorities have used to ban any public displays of support for the gay community.

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12:55 p.m.

FBI Director James Comey says the gunman in the Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49 people had “strong indications of radicalization” and was likely inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.

Comey told reporters Monday that Omar Mateen spoke with a 911 operator three times early Sunday morning. Mateen pledged loyalty to the head of the Islamic State group on his last call.

The FBI investigated Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013. Comey said investigators introduced him to confidential sources, followed him and reviewed details of some of his communications.

The early Sunday attack marked the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen died in a gun battle with police.

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A vigil will be held Monday night in Orlando for the 49 victims of a gay nightclub massacre.

The group Equality Florida says it has been working with the city to make sure the event at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, just about a mile from the Pulse nightclub, will be safe.

Mayor Buddy Dyer will speak at the vigil.

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A Democratic congressman says he’s done with the moments of silence typically held on the House floor after mass shootings.

Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes says he will leave the House floor during the traditional moment if Republican leaders schedule one to honor 49 people who died in an attack at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning.

In a series of tweets Sunday, Himes says the silence doesn’t honor victims, but mocks them. He calls the observances an “abomination” and says he will not be silent. He and other Democrats have complained about the moments of silence as Republicans and some Democrats have remained opposed to additional gun controls.

Himes says in an interview Monday that he plans to talk to Democratic colleagues about leaving the floor and honoring the victims in another way.

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12:45 p.m.

A steady stream of people is filing through a makeshift memorial about a mile from the gay Orlando nightclub where 49 victims were killed in the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

The makeshift memorial had about 25 bouquets of flowers and a growing collection of candles by Monday morning.

One married couple, Josh and James Mercer, left a poster with the hashtags “#onelove, #oneheart, #onepulse” and the illustration of a medical pulse.

Josh Mercer says two of their friends died in the shooting.

Others who approached the memorial were emotional, breaking down in tears or holding their hands to their faces in prayer.

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12:20 p.m.

Court documents reveal new details about the life of the Orlando nightclub shooter.

The documents are in relation to Omar Mateen’s petition to legally change his name in 2006, the same year he graduated from Indian River Community College.

The documents released Monday detail Mateen’s various jobs and say he was born in Queens, New York, and moved to Port Saint Lucie in 1991. Between 2001 and 2006, he worked at eight jobs, including a Publix grocery store, Circuit City, Chick-Fil-A and a Walgreens drug store.

Then his jobs begin focusing more on vitamins and health. He worked at Nutrition World in Fort Pierce, Gold’s Gym and a GNC store in a mall.

The records show that he changed his name from Omar Mir Seddique to Omar Mir Seddique Mateen. The documents don’t say why he changed his name.

The 29-year-old Mateen was killed after he attacked a gay nightclub early Sunday. Forty-nine other people died in the attack.

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12 p.m.

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry says Orlando shooter Omar Mateen visited the kingdom twice to perform an Islamic pilgrimage.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press in a text message Monday that Mateen first visited Saudi Arabia for 10 days in March 2011 and again a year later in March 2012 for eight days.

Mateen had performed what is known as the umrah pilgrimage, a series of religious rites carried out in Mecca by millions of Muslims from around the world each year. This pilgrimage is shorter than the annual hajj.

Most pilgrims will also travel to the nearby city of Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried and where he built the first mosque.

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11:45 a.m.

Hospital officials say five people are still in “grave condition” after they were wounded in the attack at an Orlando nightclub.

Orlando Regional Medical Center says 29 people are still at the hospital and a number of patients remain critically ill and in shock.

Six more surgeries on the victims are scheduled for Monday, a day after a gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub. The attack left 50 people dead, including the shooter.

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11:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama says there’s no clear evidence that the shooter at an Orlando nightclub was directed to conduct his attack or part of a larger plot.

He says it appears the shooter was inspired by extremist information disseminated over the internet.

Obama says the investigation is at the preliminary stages and is being treated as a terrorism investigation. He says the attack appears to be similar to last year’s shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.

The president says investigators are still looking into the motivations of the shooter, including the fact that the shooting took place at a gay venue.

Obama spoke in the Oval Office after getting briefed on the investigation by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other officials.

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11:15 a.m.

The father of the Orlando nightclub shooter is calling his son’s massacre “the act of a terrorist.”

Seddique Mir Mateen gave a statement to reporters and answered a few questions Monday at his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. On Sunday, the father suggested that his son’s anti-gay hatred may have led to the rampage, saying his son got angry a few months ago when he saw two men kissing in Miami.

Mateen apologized for what his son did and said “I am as sad and mad as you guys are.”

He wouldn’t go into details about any religious or political views his son held, saying he didn’t know.

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10:45 a.m.

Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama led a minute of silent prayer for the tragedy in Orlando during a visit to Washington.

Dressed in his customary saffron robes, he clasped his palms together, eyes closed, in front of several hundred people Monday at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He was there speaking about the role of youth leaders in resolving world conflict.

The prayer came after the last of the bodies were removed from an Orlando gay nightclub. The attack left 49 victims dead.

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Spain’s King Felipe VI has sent messages of support to President Barack Obama and Florida Gov. Rick Scott condemning the “brutal attack” in Orlando and expressing the condolences of the Spanish government and people.

In a telegram to the U.S. president, the king said he was “deeply affected” by what he described as “an execrable act contrary to all the principles of democratic co-existence.” He reiterated Spain’s firm commitment to continue cooperating closely with the U.S. for the peace and prosperity of both nations.

Speaking to Spain’s Telecinco television Monday, the king said it was important to stay united against the perpetrators of such attacks.

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10 a.m.

The father of the man authorities say opened fire at a gay Florida nightclub in a massacre that left 49 victims dead says the attack goes against everything he taught his son.

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Seddique Mir Mateen – the father of gunman Omar Mateen – said the attack was against his principles and against what he taught his son.

Seddique Mir Mateen said the family is shocked by what happened and that if he’d known what his son was planning, he would have arrested him himself.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at a gay nightclub early Sunday before being killed in a shootout with police. Another 53 people were wounded in the shooting.

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7:45 a.m.

Officials say they don’t yet know if anyone will be charged in the massacre that left 50 dead at a gay Florida club.

U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley said at a Monday morning news conference that officials have been collecting electronic and physical evidence as part of the ongoing investigation.

He says, “We don’t know if anyone else will be charged.” He adds that officials don’t believe there is a threat of imminent danger to the public.

Shooter Omar Mateen was killed in the early Sunday incident. Officials say he killed 49 people.

The FBI says a total of 50 people were left dead, including Mateen.

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7:40 a.m.

Officials are giving more details about the law enforcement response to a mass shooting that left 50 dead at a gay Florida nightclub.

The officials spoke at a Monday  morning news conference. Orlando police Chief John Mina says an extra officer was working at the Pulse nightclub in full uniform. The officer engaged with the shooter near an entrance. Additional officers entered, and engaged the suspect in another gunbattle. The shooter retreated to the bathroom.

Mina says, “At that time we were able to save and rescue dozens and dozens of people and get them out of the club.”

Officers then secured everything, and the SWAT team was brought in. Mina says officers then set up for an explosive breach on the bathroom wall. Mina says he made the decision to breach the wall, which created a hole through which dozens of clubgoers were rescued. Then the suspect exited through the same hole, and engaged in another gunbattle with officers. Shooter Omar Mateen was then killed.

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7:30 a.m.

Officials say that families of 24 of the victims from the massacre at a Florida nightclub have been notified.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer described the progress at a Monday morning news conference. He says that by 11 p.m. Sunday, all bodies of victims had been turned over to medical examiner. The massacre early Sunday left 50 dead.

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7:15 a.m.

A former Florida police officer who says he once worked with Orlando club shooter Omar Mateen described the 29-year-old as “unstable and unhinged.”

Daniel Gilroy told multiple news outlets that he worked with Mateen at the G45 security company. Gilroy called him an angry, loud, profane man who used slurs for gay people, blacks, Jews and women. Gilroy said Mateen also regularly made threats of violence.

Gilroy told The New York Times, “He talked about killing people all the time.” And Gilroy wasn’t surprised when he learned of the massacre: He said, “I saw it coming.”

Gilroy said Mateen started badgering him and sending dozens of text messages to him daily. Gilroy said he reported Mateen’s behavior to his bosses.

Gilroy says: “I kind of feel a little guilty that I didn’t fight harder. If I didn’t walk away and I fought, then maybe 50 people would still be alive today.”

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6:05 a.m.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling says one victim of the Orlando nightclub attack worked on the Harry Potter Ride at the Universal Studios theme park.

The author tweeted a picture of 22-year-old Luis Vielma in a Hogwarts school tie, and said: “I can’t stop crying.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister David Cameron have sent messages of condolence from Britain for the attack, which killed 50 people at a gay nightclub.

Cameron said he was “horrified” by the shooting.

Buckingham Palace says the queen sent a message to President Barack Obama saying: “Prince Philip and I have been shocked by the events in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected.”

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5:50 a.m.

The Islamic State’s radio has called the Orlando mass shooter “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.”

Al-Bayan Radio, a media outlet for the IS extremist group, on Monday hailed the attack that left 50 people dead, saying it targeted a gathering of Christians and gays and that it’s the worst attack on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at a gay nightclub early Sunday before being killed in a shootout with police. Another 53 people were wounded in the shooting.

The broadcast is apparently an opportunistic statement as IS has not officially claimed responsibility for the Orlando attack.

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3:45 a.m.

Israel’s ceremonial president says the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 people and wounded dozens more is “as cowardly as it is abhorrent.”

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Reuven Rivlin says Monday that Israel stands “shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters” after the attack on the LGBT community.

He sent his condolences and said there is “no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them.”

The Orlando attack has dominated news in Israel, which has seen a wave of Palestinian attacks in recent months. On Wednesday two Palestinian gunmen killed four people at a popular shopping and restaurant area in Tel Aviv.

LGBT groups in Israel planned rallies and other support for the community in Orlando.

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3 a.m.

Dozens of bodies were slowly removed overnight from a popular Orlando gay club after a gunman sprayed the helpless crowd with bullets in violence that killed 50 people and devastated a city famous for family-friendly theme parks.

When the attacker opened fire in the early hours of Sunday morning, it interrupted an evening of drinking, dancing and drag shows at a club known for tolerance for all people.

Authorities say suspect Omar Mateen emerged, carrying an AR-15 and fired relentlessly – 20 rounds, 40, then 50 and more. In such tight quarters, the bullets could hardly miss. He shot at police. He took hostages.

When the gunfire at the Pulse Orlando club finally stopped, 50 people were dead and dozens critically wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
11:45 p.m.

Across the United States, people are gathering at vigils honoring the victims of a shooting attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 50 people dead and 53 wounded.

In Miami Beach, mourners lit candles, embraced and waived rainbow flags Sunday evening.

Members of LGBT groups and their supporters met in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago. Among them was Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who said the city has stepped up security in gay communities. Also there in solidarity were mothers who have lost their children to gun violence.

Hundreds of people in Austin, Texas, attended an evening vigil at the Capitol that included Muslim leaders and a Christian pastor, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Several hundred people filled the parking lot of a popular LGBT-district bistro in downtown Atlanta, singing, lighting candles and speaking out against the violence that struck Orlando. Matt Garrett helped organize the event, handing out candles and lining up a series of speakers who would address the swelling crowd that spilled into the busy street.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning inside Pulse, a crowded nightclub. Mateen died in a gun battle with SWAT team members.

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9:00 p.m.

The ex-wife of the Orlando nightclub gunman says he was “mentally unstable and mentally ill.”

Sitora Yusifiy, speaking to reporters in Boulder, Colorado, says Omar Mateen was bipolar and also had a history with steroids.

She says that in the four months they were together he cut her off from her family and regularly beat her. She says that her family visited her and saw she wasn’t OK and rescued her from the situation.

Yusifiy says they literally pulled her out of his arms. She says she left all her belongings and has had no contact with him for seven or eight years.

She says Mateen was religious, but she saw no signs of radicalism.

Of the nightclub massacre she says, “there was no sign of any of this at all.”

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8:50 p.m.

Officials have started removing bodies from inside an Orlando nightclub where 50 people were shot and killed.

Sunday night, workers brought four bodies on stretchers out of club Pulse and loaded them into white vans. The action was repeated over and over.

The bodies were then taken to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s office.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire at the nightclub, leaving 50 people dead and more than 50 others wounded before he was gunned down by police.

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7 p.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee tells The Associated Press that investigators have not yet found evidence of direct communication between the Orlando nightclub gunman and Islamic State members overseas.

Rep. Adam Schiff has been briefed multiple times by federal law enforcement. He says it is possible that Omar Mateen was self-radicalized but not “under the command and control of ISIS.”

The California congressman says that could change and that it’s too early to know whether there was something that could have been done to prevent the attack.

The FBI investigated Mateen in 2013 after he made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible ties to terrorists. The following year, the agency looked into potential ties connecting Mateen to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the first American to carry out a suicide attack in Syria.

He was cleared after both investigations.

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6:40 p.m.

Seattle’s openly gay Mayor Ed Murray says that every time progress is made in the U.S., there’s a blow back and an increase in gay lesbian bisexual transgender violence.

Murray made the remarks Sunday after a gunman slaughtered 50 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Murray says the massacre is absolutely an attempt at intimidation and fear. He says the community will come together and will not be intimidated.

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The father of the Orlando nightclub gunman has a television show on Payam-e-Afghan, a California-based channel that supports ethnic solidarity with the Afghan Taliban, which are mostly Pashtun.

Viewers from Pashtun communities in the United States regularly call in to espouse support for Pashtun domination of Afghanistan over the nation’s minorities, including Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks.

Seddique Mateen’s “Durand Jirga Show” has an anti-Pakistan slant. The name of the show references the Durand line, the long-disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A former Afghan official said Seddique Mateen’s show also expresses sympathy for the Taliban, complains about foreigners in Afghanistan and criticizes U.S. actions there. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be linked to coverage of the shooting.

Seddique Mateen, who lavished praise on current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani when he appeared on the TV program in January 2014, has since denounced the Ghani government. The official said that on Saturday, Seddique Mateen, dressed in military fatigues, used his program to criticize the current Afghan government and announce that he would run in the next Afghan presidential election.

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6:10 p.m.

A woman whose cousin was shot at a gay Orlando nightclub says he is in critical condition at a hospital.

LaToya Hall says her cousin Keon Carter was in the Pulse club early Sunday when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people and wounded about 50 others.

Hall says her cousin is alert at Orlando Regional Medical Center. She says he tried to hold her hand and turn his eyes to look at her.

Hall says many people are having trouble locating victims because they are being listed under fake names.

___

5:20 p.m.

American Muslim leaders are condemning the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 people and wounded more than 50 others.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the killings a hate crime and said the group has no tolerance for extremism of any kind.

A law enforcement official has said the gunman, Omar Mateen, called 911 from the nightclub and expressed allegiance to an Islamic State leader.

Awad says members of the LGBT community have stood with Muslims in the past and today they stand that community.

___

TNT has postponed the season premiere of “The Last Ship” in the wake of the shooting in Orlando.

The show, which stars Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin, is about a group of people who’ve survived a pandemic that killed 80 percent of the world’s population.

The network says in a statement that its hearts are with the victims and their families.

___

4:50 p.m.

About 100 people gathered in Paris for a spontaneous vigil at Place Igor Stravinsky to remember those slain and wounded at an Orlando nightclub.

Several people were draped in rainbow flags. They lit candles and took pictures as a person in head-to-toe fetish gear held up a sign saying “Proud.” One woman carried a poster showing a ribbon with a rainbow on one side and an American flag on the other.

“To Orlando, we have love,” it read.

Remi Perrenoud, 30, said the news hit him particularly hard because, like the victims, he had been out partying at a gay club Saturday night.

Ian Brossat, the capital’s deputy mayor for housing, was at the vigil too. He says it seems important to mobilize to voice solidarity and to underline the fight against homophobia.

___

The Orlando mayor says of the 50 victims who died from the shooting at a gay nightclub, 39 were killed at the club and 11 people died at hospitals.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says at first officers mistakenly thought the gunman had strapped explosives to the dead victims and that the club was booby-trapped. A bomb robot sent back images of a battery part next to a body.

Dyer says that held up paramedics from going in until it was determined it was something that fell out of an exit sign or a smoke detector.

The robot was sent in after SWAT team members put explosive charges on a wall and an armored vehicle knocked the wall down in an effort to rescue hostages.

___

4:35 p.m.

A law enforcement official says the gunman who killed 50 people at a gay nightclub made a 911 call from the club, professing allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The law enforcement official is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities say Omar Mateen opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and wounding more than 50 others before he was gunned down by police.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Authorities were investigating the attack on the Florida dance club as an act of terrorism.

___

Afghanistan’s president says he “strongly condemns” the attack on a Florida nightclub that killed at least 50 people.

President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement Sunday that “targeting civilians is not justifiable under any circumstances whatsoever.” He offered his condolences to President Barack Obama, the American people and the families of the victims.

Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also offered his condolences.

Shooter Omar Mateen was born in New York. His ex-wife told The Washington Post that Mateen’s family was from Afghanistan. The family later moved to Florida.

The ex-wife is not named in the Post report.

4:05 p.m.

The FBI says agents twice investigated the man who killed 50 people inside a gay nightclub, but closed those cases after interviewing him.

FBI agent Ronald Hopper said Sunday that Omar Mateen had been interviewed in 2013 and 2014. Hopper said agents first investigated Mateen after he made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible ties to terrorists.

Mateen was interviewed twice and, when investigators were unable to verify the details of his comments, the FBI closed the probe.

In 2014, the agency looked into potential ties connecting Mateen to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the first American to carry out a suicide attack in Syria. Like Mateen, Abusalha lived in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Hopper says agents determined that contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship or a threat at that time.

Mateen was 29 years old and born in New York. The FBI says he referred to the Islamic State in a 911 call before the slayings.

___

4:05 p.m.

Organizers of Denver’s PrideFest, which holds a parade and rally that has attracted hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in past years, is going ahead with their festival next weekend amid heavy security following the shooting deaths of at least 50 people inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday.

Organizer Debra Pollock says parade and rally participants in Denver have always been security-conscious, but members of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado have also received training on how to deal with active-shooter situations.

Pollock says the organizers will have metal detectors and fences set up at Civic Center Park for the rally, and there will also be security on the parade route and people will be searched as in past years.

___

3:45 p.m.

The city of Orlando is publishing the names of those killed in a massacre at a gay nightclub on its website after their families have been contacted.

As of 3:45 p.m. Sunday, the list had four names. Fifty people were killed.

Shooter Omar Mateen was killed; his name is not on the list.

Fifty-three more were hospitalized.

The city’s website includes the #PrayforOrlando hashtag and says officials are “working tirelessly” to get information to families.

The list can be found at http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

___

3:25 p.m.

The ex-wife of the man authorities say killed 50 people at an Orlando nightclub says he beat her repeatedly while they were married.

The ex-wife told The Washington Post that she met Omar Mateen online about eight years ago and decided to move to Florida and marry him. The ex-wife, who wasn’t named in the report, says at first the marriage was normal, but then he became abusive.

They were together for only a few months and her parents intervened when they learned Mateen had assaulted her. She says he wasn’t very religious and gave no signs of radical Islam. She said he owned a small-caliber handgun and worked as a guard at a nearby facility for juvenile delinquents.

Mateen’s ex-wife said his family was from Afghanistan, but her ex-husband was born in New York. His family later moved to Florida.

___

3:20 p.m.

Officials are giving more details about the shooter in a massacre at a gay Orlando nightclub.

Ronald Hopper of the FBI says shooter Omar Mateen was 29 and an American citizen. He was not under surveillance at the time of the shooting.

Hooper says Mateen purchased at least two firearms within the last week or so.

Hooper says some 911 calls involving the shooter and the massacre have become federal evidence. He says the conversations involved the Islamic State.

Hooper says the shooter in 2013 made inflammatory comments to co-workers , and that Mateen was interviewed twice. Hooper calls those interviews inconclusive.

In 2014, Hooper says, officials found that Mateen had ties to an American suicide bomber. Hooper describes the contact as minimal; it did not constitute a threat at that time.

___

3:15 p.m.

Police say 11 officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub.

Orlando police Chief John Mina gave the details at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Also, officials say three deputy sheriffs actively engaged, and fired their weapons. They’re relieved of duties pending an investigation. That’s typical procedure in such cases.

___

3:15 p.m.

The suspected Orlando night club shooter Omar Mateen was a security guard with G4S. In a 2012 newsletter, the firm identified him as working in West Palm Beach.

In a statement sent to the Palm Beach Post, the security company confirmed his employment.

“We are shocked and saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Orlando nightclub. We can confirm that Omar Mateen had been employed with G4S since September 10, 2007. We are cooperating fully with all law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, as they conduct their investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the friends, families and people affected by this unspeakable tragedy.”

___

3 p.m.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the man who killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando called 911 shortly before the attack and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

The media outlets cited unnamed law enforcement officials in their reports.

Danny Banks is an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He says authorities are investigating whether the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history was an act of domestic or international terrorism, and if the shooter acted alone.

The suspect in the Orlando attack was identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. The gunman’s father recalled to NBC News that his son recently got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami and said that might be related to the assault.

___

2:55 p.m.

People who were inside the gay Florida nightclub where 50 people were killed are describing a scene of mass chaos.

Two men who were in Club Pulse discussed the Sunday massacre in Facebook chats with The Associated Press.

Orlando resident Brand White was shot. He says, “We are dancing and all of a sudden it just started like a rolling thunder, loud and everything went black.”

The 30-year-old was with his cousin, who mentioned something about “a guy with a bomb.” After that, White says, his memory is fuzzy; he said he doesn’t recall leaving the club or who took him to the hospital.

White was shot in the shoulder. He spoke to The AP as he was being monitored at a hospital. He said he received a blood transfusion.

His cousin was unaccounted for – no one had heard from him as of 2:45 p.m.

Another man, Brett Rigas, says he and his partner were dancing when they heard shots. Rigas was shot in the arm and hid behind a bar. About five minutes later, authorities came in and told everyone to put their hands up and run out.

Rigas said he saw bodies as he ran out.

___
2:45 p.m.

The suspected Orlando nightclub gunman had been licensed as a private security officer in Florida.

State records show suspected shooter Omar Mateen held the firearms license since at least 2011. It was set to expire in September 2017.

It wasn’t immediately clear where, if anywhere, Mateen had worked as a security officer. An armed guard license in Florida requires 28 hours of classroom training by a licensed instructor.

___

2:35 p.m.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is cutting short a visit to Beijing for cybersecurity meetings with Chinese officials and returning to the United States to monitor developments in the nightclub shooting investigation.

Lynch says the Justice Department, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is supporting the investigation.

She says in a statement that she’s gotten updates from Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey.

___

2:35 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 people and wounded dozens more.

Netanyahu said Sunday that “on behalf of the people and government of Israel, I extend our deepest condolences to the American people following last night’s horrific attack on the LGBT community in Orlando.”

He wished “heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims” and “full and speedy recovery to the wounded.”

The Orlando attack dominated news in Israel, which has seen a wave of Palestinian attacks in recent months. On Wednesday two Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded five others in Tel Aviv.

LGBT groups in Israel planned rallies and other support for the community in Orlando.

___

2:25 p.m.

Police departments across the country are increasing patrols near locations frequented by the LGBT community after a gunman killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

In Los Angeles, the mayor says a heavily armed person who was headed to a gay pride parade had been arrested by Santa Monica police. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the arrest was completely unrelated to the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Officer Ernesto Rodriguez of Miami Beach Police Department says the agency is saddened by the massacre and out of an abundance of caution will step up patrols. Boston Pride organizers plan to hold a moment of silence at this weekend’s scheduled block parties to honor the Orlando victims and police there said there will be a heavier presence at those events.

The Baltimore Police Department says it is reaching out to the city’s LBGT community to discuss concerns and safety after the Orlando massacre.

___

2:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the worst mass shooting in U.S. history is a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a weapon that allows them to shoot people in a school, in a house of worship, a movie theater or a gay nightclub.

Speaking from the White House, Obama says the United States has to decide if that is the “country we want to be.” He says that doing nothing is a decision as well.

The shooting has thrust the topic of gun control back into focus as a presidential election nears.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has called for expanding background checks to sales at gun shows and online purchases, and for reinstating a ban on assault weapons. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has said the existing background check system should be fixed, not expanded, and that assault-weapons bans do not work.

___

2:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and federal buildings until sunset Thursday “as a mark of respect for victims of the act of hatred and terror” at a gay Florida nightclub.

He’s also directing the same observance at embassies and other U.S. government facilities abroad.

Obama addressed the nation Sunday, calling the shooting “an act of terror” and an “act of hate.”

Fifty were killed, including the shooter, and 53 more hospitalized.

___

2:15 p.m.

Donald Trump isn’t pausing his political commentary for the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history unfolding in Florida.

It was unclear whether the shooter who killed at least 50 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub was associated with a radical religious organization. President Barack Obama addressed the nation, calling the shooting “an act of terror” and an “act of hate.”

Trump tweeted as Obama began speaking: “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that the shooter in the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub was known to the FBI before the incident and had been looked at by agents within the last few years.

The official spoke to The Associated Press Sunday about the shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and on spoke on condition of anonymity.

___

2:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the nightclub shooting in Orlando was an “act of terror” and an “act of hate.”

He said Sunday that the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism and that no effort will be spared to determine whether the shooter was affiliated with terrorist groups.

Obama is speaking at the White House after 50 people were killed overnight at a nightclub in Florida. Officials have said 53 more are hospitalized.

Obama is noting that the killer targeted a gay nightclub. He says it’s a “sobering reminder” that an attack on any American is an attack “on all of us.”

___

2 p.m.

A bartender who was working at the Orlando nightclub when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people and wounded about 50 others says at first she thought the gunshots were music.

But after a second shot there was a pause, and then more shots and Tiffany Johnson realized something was wrong.

Johnson says people dropped to the ground and started running out of the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning. She ran to a fast-food restaurant across the street and met one of her customers who let her get in his car and they drove away.

Johnson says her first instinct was to get somewhere safe.

___

2 p.m.

Sunday evening’s Tony Awards have been dedicated to those affected by the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed at least 50 people.

In a statement Sunday, the Tony Awards said “our hearts are heavy for the unimaginable tragedy.” The awards, it said, will be dedicated to the friends and family of those affected by the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history.

Organizers didn’t say how the evening’s broadcast would be affected. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of “Hamilton” – expected to be the night’s big winner – tweeted a rainbow-colored heart with “Orlando” written beneath it.

The Tonys are to be hosted by late-night host James Corden.

___

1:40 p.m.

The Vatican says Pope Francis is expressing the “deepest feelings of horror and condemnation” over a massacre at a gay Florida nightclub that killed at least 50 people.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says the pontiff denounces the “homicidal folly and senseless hatred.”

He added that Francis joins the families of victims and injured in the Sunday massacre in “prayer and compassion.”

___

1:35 p.m.

A law enforcement official says the shooter in the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub was known to the FBI before the incident and had been looked at by agents within the last few years.

The official spoke to The Associated Press Sunday about the shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and on spoke on condition of anonymity.

The shooter has been identified as Omar Mateen of Florida. The official says the matter for which Mateen came under investigation was “open and closed pretty quickly.”

Other details about the matter weren’t immediately available.

___

1:20 p.m.

Hundreds of people in Orlando have lined up to give blood to help the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub.

Officials at OneBlood say they have received such an overwhelming response that they are now asking donors to come back over the next several days. More than 50 people were injured and 50 were killed when a gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning.

In the hours after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, officials urged people to donate blood to help the victims.

In December, the nation’s three-decade-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men was formally lifted, but there are still major restrictions to limit who can give blood. The Food and Drug Administration said it replaced the lifetime ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.

___

12:45 p.m.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says law enforcement officials and the intelligence community are checking to see what information they had on the shooter prior to the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub.

Rep. Adam Schiff called the attack “painfully reminiscent” of the November shootings at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris.

He says in a statement, “This morning, I will be marching in the West Hollywood Pride Parade with a heavy heart, but we will march in solidarity with all those who are the victims of terrorism and hatred.”

___

12:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is calling the shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub “heartwrenching” and says people who went into the building knowing there was an active shooter are heroic.

He spoke Sunday afternoon at a news conference, hours after 50 people were killed. Officials have said 53 more are hospitalized.

Scott urged people to donate blood. He says officials are doing everything they can.

He says the massacre was “clearly an act of terror.”

He adds, “To take that number of lives is clearly an act of terror.”

Officials have said they’re investigating whether the incident was an act of terrorism.

___

12:25 p.m.

Law enforcement officials are beefing up security for a LGBT pride festival in Washington, D.C., after a deadly shooting at a gay club in Orlando.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement that she has been briefed by police Chief Cathy Lanier about increased security measures ahead of Sunday’s Capital Pride Festival.

DC Police tweeted that festivalgoers should expect extra police presence Sunday.

Bowser said Washingtonians “will not be deterred by hate as we gather to celebrate love.”

Festival organizers said that there will be moment of silence for the victims of the Florida shooting at 1 p.m.

Officials said the shooting at the Orlando nightclub left at least 50 people dead, making it the worst mass shooting in American history.

___

Noon

A SWAT truck and a bomb disposal unit are on the scene of an address associated with the man named as the shooter in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

There is a media staging area set up about a block away from the apartment complex in a residential neighborhood in Fort Pierce, Florida, on Sunday. The shooter has been identified Omar Mateen.

Fort Pierce is about 118 miles southeast of Orlando. The apartment complex is a series of two-story buildings.

Numerous police officers and members of the FBI also area there.

___

11:45 a.m.

The father of the man named as the shooter in a massacre at a gay Florida nightclub says he’s in shock and that he wasn’t aware of anything his son might have been planning.

Mir Seddique is the father of Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Seddique told NBC News that his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting.

Seddique says: “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. … We are in shock like the whole country.”

The father also says the incident has nothing to do with religion.

Officials say the shooter was among the 50 killed, and that they’re investigating whether the incident was an act of terrorism.
___

11:45 a.m.

Many are still awaiting word on whether their loved ones are among the 50 killed and 53 hospitalized in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Thirty-two-year-old Christopher Leinonen was at the popular Pulse club and is missing. That’s according to his mother, Christine Leinonen. She drove to Orlando at 4 a.m. She hasn’t heard from her son and fears the worst. She was standing in front of an Orlando hospital just down the street from Pulse.

She says: “These are nonsensical killings of our children. They’re killing our babies!”

She said her son’s friend made it out alive by hiding in the bathroom and running out as bullets were flying.

Also, on Sunday morning Facebook added a “Facebook Safety Check” for people to find out whether friends and family have tagged themselves as safe. The social network is using the heading “The Shooting in Orlando, Florida.”

It is Facebook’s way of allowing its users who live near the scene of a major crisis to notify people that they’re OK.
__

11:20 a.m.

Families and friends are awaiting word outside an Orlando hospital to learn whether their loved ones are among 50 killed and 53 more hospitalized at a shooting at a gay nightclub.

About 50 people were gathered outside Orlando Regional Medical Center on Sunday, many in tears and anxious.

Fatriana Evans frequents the Pulse nightclub and was outside when shots were fired.

Evans says, “It sounded like fireworks – pop, pop, pop – and then everybody scatters.”

Jackie Smith was inside the club and says two friends next to her were shot. She says she hasn’t gotten updates on their conditions. She came out of the hospital and burst into tears in the arms of friends.

She says: “Some guy walked in and started shooting everybody. He had an automatic rifle, so nobody stood a chance. I just tried to get out of there.”
___

11 a.m.

Police say the shooter at an Orlando nightclub used an AR-15-type assault rifle on all the victims.

Officials say 50 were killed at the popular gay club. That makes it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday news conference that the shooter used the assault rifle, with unknown rounds, and also had a handgun.

Officials at the news conference also say they have securing the suspect’s vehicle, a van, right outside the club.

The shooter has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Officials have said they’re investigating whether the massacre was an act of terrorism.

Dr. Mike Cheatham is a trauma surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center, where 46 patients were taken. The majority are in critical condition.

He tells The Associated Press, “I think we will see the death toll rise.”
___

10:50 a.m.

The massacre at an Orlando nightclub that claimed 50 lives is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Police Chief John Mina confirmed at a news conference Sunday morning that 50 people were killed, up from 20 as earlier reported.

Mayor Buddy Dyer says 53 more are hospitalized after the early Sunday incident. He says the shooter is among the dead. He also says the shooter used an assault rifle on all those dead. Officials say one officer was shot, and has injuries to his face.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson identified the shooter as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. He cited law enforcement officials in speaking to reporters.

Officials also have said they’re investigating whether the incident was an act of terrorism.
___

10:30 a.m.

The mayor of Orlando says there were 50 casualties and there are 53 more hospitalized after a mass shooting at a popular gay nightclub there.

“There’s blood everywhere,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said Sunday at a news conference, hours after the shooting.

He says the shooter used an assault rifle on all those killed.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson identified the shooter as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. He cited law enforcement officials in speaking to reporters.
___

10:20 a.m.

The suspect in the mass shooting at night club in Florida has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson identified the shooter in the Sunday incident. He cited law enforcement officials in speaking to reporters.

A federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation also identified him. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks said earlier that the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether the incident was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.

– Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.
___

10:15 a.m.

Florida’s governor is headed to Orlando after a shooting at a gay nightclub there left about 20 dead and 42 wounded.

Gov. Rick Scott says in a statement Sunday, hours after the incident, that thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The statement says he’ll meet with law enforcement and local officials in Orlando.

Scott says: “We will devote every resource available to assist with the shooting in Orlando. Our state emergency operations center is also monitoring this tragic incident.”

His statement also thanks the first responders.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks said earlier that the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether the incident was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.
___

9:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama has been briefed by his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser about the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left about 20 people dead and 42 wounded.

The White House said Sunday, several hours after the incident, that Obama has been briefed and has asked for regular updates as the FBI and other federal officials work with Orlando police on the case.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that the president has directed federal officials to provide “any necessary assistance to pursue the investigation and support the community.”
___

7:25 a.m.

Police say approximately 20 people have been killed inside a Florida nightclub, and at least 42 were wounded.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina says authorities have not determined an exact number of people killed, but that “approximately 20” have died.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks says the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. He says authorities are looking into whether the early Sunday incident was an act of domestic or international terror, and if the shooter was a lone wolf.

Mina says the shooter was armed with an assault-type rifle, a handgun and some type of suspicious device. Police had said previously on Twitter that there was a “controlled explosion” at the scene of the shooting at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club. Mina says that noise was caused by a device intended to distract the shooter.
___

7:15 a.m.

Police say multiple people have been killed inside a Florida nightclub, and at least 42 wounded people have been taken to hospitals.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina did not immediately provide an exact number of how many people were killed. Police had said previously that the shooting was a “mass casualty situation.”

Mina says the shooter was armed with an assault-type rifle, a handgun and some type of device. Police had said previously on Twitter that there was a “controlled explosion” at the scene of the shooting at Pulse Orlando.

Mina also says the suspect had exchanged gunshots with an officer working at the club, then went back inside and took hostages around 2 a.m. About three hours later, a SWAT team made the decision to go inside and rescue the hostages. The shooter died in a gunfight with those officers.
___

5:55 a.m.

Police say the person who opened fire inside a popular Florida nightclub is dead.

Orlando Police did not immediately provide further details on the department’s official Twitter account on Sunday. It was not immediately clear how the shooter died. Police described the shooting as a “mass casualty situation” and said local, state and federal agencies were involved in the investigation.

It was not immediately clear how many people were wounded in the shooting, or if any of the victims had died. Police have told people to stay away from the area and said a noise in the vicinity was a “controlled explosion.” No further details were provided on the explosion.

Dozens of emergency vehicles have swarmed the area around the club.

The club, Pulse Orlando, earlier posted on its own Facebook page just after 2 a.m.: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
___

5:15 a.m.

Police say a loud noise near the scene of a reported shooting at a nightclub in Florida was a “controlled explosion.”

Orlando Police said on the department’s official Twitter account Sunday that media should avoid “reporting inaccuracies.” No further details were immediately provided about the explosion.

Police have said “multiple injuries” were reported following the incident at the Pulse Orlando nightclub near Orange and Kaley avenue. The department also advised people to stay away from area.

Multiple emergency vehicles have reportedly responded, including the Orlando Fire Department’s bomb squad and hazardous material team.

Pulse Orlando earlier posted on its own Facebook page just after 2 a.m.: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
___

4:50 a.m.

Orlando Police say they are responding to a shooting at a nightclub in Florida.

A post on the department’s official Twitter account early Sunday morning says “multiple injuries” have been reported following the incident at the Pulse Orlando nightclub near Orange and Kaley avenue. The department also advises people to stay away from area.

Multiple emergency vehicles have reportedly responded, including the Orlando Fire Department’s bomb squad and hazardous material team.

Pulse Orlando earlier posted on its own Facebook page: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”

The incident follows the fatal shooting on Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on “The Voice.”
___

This story has been corrected to show that information about shooting being investigated as act of terrorism came from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, not the FBI.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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