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Live updates: Shooting in Orlando

June 13, 2016
Kelvin Cobaris, a local clergyman, consoles Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan, right, and Terry DeCarlo, an Orlando gay-rights advocate, as they arrive on the scene near where a mass shooting occcured in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Kelvin Cobaris, a local clergyman, consoles Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan, right, and Terry DeCarlo, an Orlando gay-rights advocate, as they arrive on the scene near where a mass shooting occcured in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history claimed the lives of 49 victims at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. The gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before he was killed by a SWAT team.

Read more:

  • Emma Brown
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Mourners gather in San Diego under an LGBT pride flag flying at half-staff for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of mass shooting victims in Orlando, Fla. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Fewer than 48 hours ago, a gunman opened fire in a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded — and reshaping the nation’s emotional and political landscapes.

Since then, we have learned more about what happened inside Pulse during the early morning hours of June 12, in the middle of a celebration of Pride. We know that the gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was “radicalized” through online interactions, according to the FBI. We know that, after his initial attack, he holed up in a bathroom with hostages, staying “cool and calm” as he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 phone call.

But much about Mateen’s motives remain unclear: At the same time he claimed affiliation with ISIS, he also claimed solidarity with a suicide bomber who died fighting in Syria for the Al-Nusra Front, an enemy of ISIS. And whatever inspiration he had from terror networks outside the country, he also hated homosexuality, once becoming “very angry” when he saw two men kissing, according to his father.

As investigators continue to try to understand what led Mateen to carry out the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil, politicians reacted: Hillary Clinton urged Americans to come together and tighten gun controls, while Donald Trump renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., blaming the Obama administration for a lax approach to immigration that has allowed killers into the nation.

In Orlando, people lined up in droves to donate blood to the victims who were fighting to stay alive. And across the nation and the world, people mourned those who died, many of them young people with most of their lives ahead of them.

Read more of The Post’s coverage:

Orlando gunman who pledged loyalty to ISIS was ‘homegrown’ extremist radicalized online, Obama says

The last harrowing moments at the Orlando nightclub and the police’s decision to save the hostages

Trump blames Obama for Orlando shooting, blasts Clinton on immigration

Hillary Clinton calls for unity, resolve to combat terrorism

On 9/11, the Orlando shooter’s classmates mourned. Some say he celebrated.

#TwoMenKissing: The Internet’s powerful response to the Orlando shooter’s anger

‘He’s coming … I’m gonna die’: Heartbreaking final texts from a victim to his mom

  • Emma Brown
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A pair of shoes sit in a parking lot outside Pulse nightclub after the shooting. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

The Post’s Caitlin Dewey spoke with a survivor of the nightclub shooting:

Jillian Amador was standing at the bar with three friends and their favorite bartender, Juan, when they began to hear a series of popping noises that they thought were firecrackers. But the popping didn’t stop, and Amador began to see bodies dropping in the crowd.

She ran, falling to the floor herself, unsure if the people around her were injured, dead, or trying to stay out of the line of fire. When the shots paused, she ran for an exit, only realizing she’d cut her hand and arm open on broken glass once she’d gotten outside.

“The only thing I was thinking was that I didn’t want to get shot in the back,” Amador said. “That I didn’t want to die.”

Amador and her friends survived the attack, one of them by hiding in an attic office. Amador was treated at a local hospital and discharged for the cuts on her arms, but says her real injuries haven’t even begun to show themselves yet.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see the bodies dropping, I hear the noise,” she said. She didn’t sleep for 38 hours after the attack.

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Police and law enforcement officials continued to block off parts of South Orange Avenue near Pulse nightclub on Monday morning. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pulse nightclub attacker Omar Mateen legally purchased two guns from the St. Lucie Shooting Center, shop owner Ed Henson said at a news conference Monday.

“An evil person came in here and legally purchased two firearms from us,” Henson said, adding that Mateen had multiple security licenses and passed a full background check before he was allowed to buy the guns.

Henson said if Mateen hadn’t bought the guns at his shop, he would have been able to buy them somewhere else. “We happened to be the gun store he picked. It’s horrible,” Henson said. “I’m sorry he picked my place. I wish he’d picked nowhere.”

The St. Lucie Shooting Center is located in Port St. Lucie, where Mateen lived about 125 miles south of Orlando.

Henson said he did not know exactly when Mateen had bought the two weapons, a long gun and hand gun. He estimated that a week passed between Mateen’s first and second purchase. He also said that rumors that Mateen bought body armor at the store are wrong. “We’ve never sold body armor, and we don’t currently sell body armor,” he said.

Henson said he had closed his shop Monday in order to allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to conduct a compliance review without being interrupted or bothered by crowds. The ATF found the shop to be in full compliance with its rules, he said.

A 20-year veteran of the New York City Police Department who retired in 2002, Henson said that his experience as a first responder made him feel great gratitude and empathy for police and other law enforcement officers investigating the nightclub attack.

“I wish them all the best,” he said. “I have an idea what they’re facing in this investigation, and it’s horrific.”

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that he feels “total shock and revulsion” in response to the Orlando attack, which was carried out by the American-born son of Afghan immigrants.

“Our reaction is one of total shock and revulsion. The United States is our closest ally, a friend in need, a friend indeed,” Ghani told Amanpour. “We pay tribute to those Americans, men and women, both in uniform and out who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to help us carve a future for ourselves.”

Ghani acknowledged that the gunman was raised by Afghan parents. “But this should be clear: that the Afghan public condemns this in categorical terms,” he said.

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Jet Blue announced Monday that it would offer free seats to and from Orlando for the family members and domestic partners of people who were killed or injured at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning.

“We want to do our part to help the victims of this tragedy, as well as support the Orlando community through this difficult time,” the airline wrote on its website Monday with the hashtag #WeStandWithOrlando.

Family members and domestic partners seeking to take advantage of the offer should contact 1-800-JETBLUE for details.

Besides those free flights, the airline is also providing fee waivers for passengers who need to make last-minute changes to their plans to travel to or from Orlando.

JetBlue also said it would make resources available to employees who were affected by the shooting, and committed to making a charitable contribution to support the victims and their families.

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Donald J. Trump said Monday in the wake of the Orlando shooting that his stance on banning Muslims from entering the United States makes him — not Hillary Clinton — “really the friend” to women and LGBT people.

Speaking about national security in Manchester, N.H., Trump said he sees keeping Muslims — including “radical Islamic terrorists” — out of the United States as a way of safeguarding the American way of life.

“They enslave women, and they murder gays,” he said. “I don’t want them in our country.”

Trump said that Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, cannot claim to be an ally of gay people or women if she continues to support an immigration policy that would allow Muslims into the country. “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community?” Trump said.

Trump repeatedly criticized Clinton for refusing to blame Sunday’s attack in Orlando on radical Islamic terrorism. FBI officials have said that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was “radicalized” — but it is not yet clear what role religion played in his life or whether he ever had contact with or direction from a larger terrorist network.

Earlier on Monday, Clinton pushed back against Trump’s position. Without mentioning him by name, she said that the nation should be reaching out to Muslim communities and engaging with them, “not scapegoating or isolating them.”

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In the wake of the deadly shooting in Orlando, businessman Donald J. Trump on Monday renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States until the nation is “in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people.”

Speaking in Manchester, N.H., the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee repeatedly criticized his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama for allowing immigration from Muslim countries and for refusing to blame the Orlando shooting and other attacks on “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety and above all else,” Trump said. “I refuse to be politically correct.”

He ridiculed Clinton, who called Monday for controls on assault-style weapons, saying she “wants to take away America’s guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us.”

Trump said if elected he would suspend immigration from “areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”

He pointed to the terrorist attack last year that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, Calif. It was carried out by the son of immigrants from Pakistan and his wife, who lived most of her life in Saudi Arabia. The Orlando attack, he said, was carried out by the son of immigrants from Afghanistan.

“We cannot continue to allow thousands and thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer,” he said.

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An undated photo from the Facebook account of Luis Vielma, who police identified as one of the victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub. (Luis Vielma via Facebook/Handout via Reuters)

One of the victims in the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was a pharmacy technician and aspiring nurse.

One worked at an amusement park.

One was a dancer.

All of them had their own stories, and their dreams.

The Washington Post is remembering them with profiles published online here.

Forty-six of the 49 victims have been publicly identified, according to the City of Orlando.

  • Emma Brown
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FBI agents investigate the damaged rear wall of the Pulse nightclub where 50 people, including the gunman, died in the nation’s deadliest mass shooting. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Post’s graphics team has produced images of the floor plan of Pulse that help show what transpired inside the nightclub between 2 a.m. Sunday, when Omar Mateen opened fire, and 5 a.m., when police used an explosive and an armored vehicle to break through an exterior wall, giving hostages a way to escape.

See the floor plan here.

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(Chris Kleponis/AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton began a speech in Cleveland on Monday by talking about the importance of coming together in the wake of Sunday’s attack in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history. “Today is not a day for politics,” she said.

But while the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee did not mention GOP rival Donald Trump by name, she clearly pushed back against his rhetoric blaming “radical Islamic terrorists” and against his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them,” she said.

Trump first floated his proposed ban on Muslims in December after a deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif. He reiterated the proposal on Sunday and took aim at Clinton and President Obama for refusing to blame “radical Islamic terrorism” for the shooting.

Clinton emphasized that it’s not yet clear what motivated the killer in Orlando, and she said that the vitriol directed toward American Muslims and mosques is “wrong, and it’s also dangerous. It plays right into the terrorists’ hands.”

Trump is scheduled to give a speech about national security at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

  • Emma Brown
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Hillary Clinton called for new controls on the military-style weapons like the AR-15, the gun used not only in the Orlando shooting but also in the San Bernardino, Calif. attack and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school, in Newtown, Conn.

“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said, speaking at an afternoon rally in Cleveland. “And we may have our disagreements about gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few essential things: If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked,” she said.

“You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes or evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show,” she continued. “And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”

She said that new controls on assault weapons, and new requirements for background checks, “may not stop every shooting or terrorist attack, but it will stop some. And it will save lives.”

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FBI Director James B. Comey said that the gunman who attacked the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had previously been investigated twice by the FBI, including for making “inflammatory and contradictory” statements about terrorism.

Mateen first came to the attention of the FBI in May 2013, when he was working as a contract security guard at a local courthouse, Comey said. He made “inflammatory and contradictory” statements about terrorism that concerned some of his co-workers: He claimed that he had family members who were aligned with al-Qaeda, according to Comey, and also said that he hoped law enforcement officers would “raid his apartment and assault his wife and child so he could martyr himself.”

Comey said the FBI investigated for 10 months, including by examining Mateen’s communications and interviewing him twice. Mateen said he had made the remarks “in anger,” Comey said, because he thought his co-workers were discriminating against him and teasing him. The investigation was closed.

The FBI again examined Mateen several months later, in an effort to discern any connections with a Florida man who blew himself up in a suicide bombing in Syria.

Comey said the FBI would look “forward in this investigation and backward” in an effort to understand “every moment of this killer’s terrible path” toward the massacre at Pulse on Sunday morning.

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President Obama, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Monday, after getting briefed on the investigation of a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and other officials. With Obama are (from l-r) Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Johnson, Vice President Biden, Comey, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

FBI Director James Comey conducted a news conference about the Orlando shooting without uttering the name of the gunman, saying that he did not want to contribute to making a mass killer famous.

“Part of what motivates sick people to do this kind of thing is some twisted notion of fame or glory,” Comey said Monday afternoon. “I don’t want to be part of that.”

He thanked the law enforcement officers who stormed the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning, ending a three-hour standoff with the gunman, and praised the first responders who treated dozens of people, many of them seriously injured.

“You showed us the best parts of humanity in the midst of terrible loss,” he said.

He also offered condolences to the people who lost friends and families in the attack.

“Our hearts are broken,” he said. “We are so sorry for your loss and your suffering.”

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FBI Director James B. Comey said investigators are “highly confident” that the gunman in the Orlando attack was radicalized, at least in part through the Internet. But Comey said there is no sign that the massacre was part of a larger attack or directed from outside of the United States.

He also said it is not clear with which terrorist group or groups the gunman, Omar Mateen, was aligned. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call during the attack on Sunday morning, but he also claimed solidarity with the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing, who were not aligned with the Islamic State. And Mateen claimed solidarity with another man from Florida, who died in a suicide bombing in Syria while fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra, a rival of the Islamic State.

“It’s early. We’re working hard to understand the killer and his motives,” Comey said.

He said the agency is also investigating the role that anti-gay bigotry may have played in Mateen’s actions.

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President Obama said Monday morning that there is no evidence that the shooting in Orlando was “part of a larger plot.”

As Director Comey, I think, will indicate, at this stage, we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally. It does appear that at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL, but there’s no evidence so far that he was, in fact, directed by ISIL.

And there also, at this stage, there’s no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot. In that sense, it is — it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don’t yet know. And this is part of what is going to be important in terms of the investigation.

As far as we can tell right now, this is certainly an example of the kind of home-grown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time.

Post Politics has a full transcript of President Obama’s remarks.

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An undated photo from the Facebook account of Amanda Alvear, who police identified as one of the victims of the shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. (Amanda Alvear via Facebook/Handout via Reuters)

Amanda Alvear, 25, is among the 49 victims killed in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. She was the senior pharmacy tech at a CVS in Haines City and was to start nursing school in the fall, according to her brother, Brian Alvear, 30.

“School and work were everything to her,” Brian said. “She had the kindest, biggest heart. She would ride to Miami to say ‘happy birthday’ to a friend for 10 minutes.”

Amanda lived with her parents in Davenport, just outside Orlando. She and her friend Mercedez Flores, 26, went dancing at Pulse on Saturday night.

The family spent Sunday waiting. “There was an air of dread,” said Brian Alvear. “We were hoping by some happenstance that she was still alive.”

Their parents were told by officials that more notifications would be available at 3 a.m. Monday, but around midnight two uniformed officers appeared at their home and delivered the news that Amanda Alvear had died in the shooting. They later learned that her friend Mercedes Flores had also died.

— Anne Hull

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Officials at the Washington National Cathedral said the cathedral’s mourning bell would toll 50 times Monday morning in memory of those who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Forty-nine victims died in the shooting, as did the gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen.

“Almighty God, look with compassion upon all who have been injured or killed in Orlando, and upon those who love them, and upon our nation,” the cathedral’s Facebook page said. “Be with us as we struggle to understand the senseless violence of our world and the mysteries of life and death; in our pain bring your comfort, in our sorrow, bring us your hope and your promise of new life, in the name of the risen Christ. Amen.”

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Dozens of victims of the attack at the Pulse nightclub arrived at hospitals with “multiple high-velocity gunshot wounds” and went straight into surgery to stop the bleeding, according to Orlando Health, the hospital network that has been treating those hurt in the shooting.

Within an hour of the first patient arriving early Sunday morning, the Orlando Regional Medical Center had six trauma surgeons at work in operating rooms, according to the hospital network. In a series of tweets, the network described the extraordinary scene that unfolded as doctors and nurses took on the task of tending to at least 44 people, many of them seriously injured.

Nine people died soon after arriving with no vital signs or being “profoundly ill” early Sunday, the hospital said. No one has died since then, but five patients remain in “grave condition,” and many others are still critically ill.

The number of casualties was unlike anything Orlando Health had experienced, but the hospital network said that things went smoothly because of rigorous training.

As of late Monday morning, six patients had been discharged.

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An undated photo from the Facebook account of Kimberly “KJ” Morris, who police identified as one of the victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. (KJ Morris via Facebook/Handout via Reuters)

Kimberly Morris, who went by “KJ,” was a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub and among the deceased in Sunday’s massacre. She was 37.

Morris was a native of Torrington, Conn., according to NBC Connecticut, and had recently moved from Hawaii to Orlando to help care for her mother and grandmother, her college classmate, Narvell Benning, said.

Benning met Morris at Post University in Waterbury, Conn., where both played basketball. He kept in periodic contact with her over social media in the years after he graduated in 1999.

“She was just the sweetest person — I don’t think I’ve ever seen her upset,” said Benning, 38. “When we would have a game, either both teams or just the guys, she would always tell me ‘good game’ and give me a fist bump, win or lose. That was our little connection, our thing.”

Benning said Morris was openly gay in college and seemed confident with her sexual identity. He did not know she was working as a bouncer until posts surfaced on Facebook early Sunday inquiring about her whereabouts.

He said he is struggling to reconcile the gruesome details of her death with the joy she always exhibited.

“She always laughed, she always had a smile,” he said. “What I would say is that she had a happy soul.”

— Isaac Stanley-Becker

  • Matt Zapotosky
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Kelvin Cobaris, a local clergyman, consoles Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan, right, and Terry DeCarlo, an Orlando gay-rights advocate, as they arrive on the scene near where a mass shooting occcured in Orlando. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who is openly gay and whose district includes Pulse, said she hoped the shooting would spark a bigger debate about restrictions on assault weapons. But she said Orlando’s city council might have a tough time doing anything by itself, because the state legislature “passed rules that we could not stop guns in our council chambers.”

Sheehan, a Democrat, said she was referring to the state’s “pre-emption” law, which blocks localities from coming up with their own regulation.

“I’m a person who has a gun,” she said, “but I don’t think anyone needs an assault rifle.”

Sheehan, whose status as a lawmaker allowed her to venture beyond the crime tape, said the FBI has been tight-lipped in giving information to non-law enforcement, though people she knew or encountered from the club were able to give her some sense of the horror from Sunday morning. A bartender, she said, claimed that when law enforcement entered, they asked those still alive to raise their hands. Sheehan said she saw first hand the blood on the street.

“You can tell where people were dragged,” she said, fighting back tears. “It’s horrible, and that’s just in the street.”

Sheehan said the response of people in Orlando, though — lining up in droves to donate blood — was moving. She said she was hoping people would delay vigils, though, as such events would divert law enforcement resources needed for the shooting scene.

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