President Barack Obama Has Been Briefed on Orlando Nightclub Shooting that Left At Least 20 People Dead

At least 20 people are dead after a shooting occurred at a gay club in Orlando

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

President Barack Obama was briefed Sunday morning on the shooting at an Orlando, Florida nightclub that left approximately 20 people dead and dozens of others injured.

According to a statement released by his press secretary, President Obama was informed by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement read. “The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.”

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According to police, a single gunman opened fire just after 2 a.m. local time at Pulse, a popular gay club south of downtown Orlando. An officer working at the club initially responded to the shooter, “engaging in the gun battle with the suspect” before the suspect went back into the club, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday morning news conference.

The shooter held several people hostage for several hours. At 5 a.m., police moved in to rescue the hostages. More gunshots followed, and police also used explosives in an attempt to distract the suspect. Eventually, the gunman, reportedly identified by police sources as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was shot and killed.

Authorities do not yet know a motive. “We consider this an act of terrorism,” says FDLE Agent Danny Banks.

This tragedy is not believed to be linked to the shooting death of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, which occurred late Friday after her concert in Orlando.

The two candidates to succeed Obama weighed in on the tragedy, as well. Democrat Hillary Clinton Tweeted – in both English and Spanish – “Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act. -H.”

Republican Donald Trump Tweeted this: “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?” About 30 minutes later on early Sunday afternoon, he followed up with this: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

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