In the early hours on Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire in Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, killing 49 and woundings dozens more, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
As the world continues to mourn the senseless tragedy, details about the victims and the shooter continue to emerge. Here’s everything we know about the horrific shooting.
The overwhelming majority of the victims were Latino
Nearly one-quarter of the population of Florida is Hispanic, and on Saturday night, the club was hosting Latin Night. According to a local organization, more than 90 percent of the victims, ranging in age from 18 to 50, were Latino.
“We’ve never really been, at least in recent history, the target of a terrorist attack,” said Zoe Colon, the Florida director of Hispanic Federation. “Not to speculate that this was an attack on the Latino community, but to have been impacted to this magnitude, I don’t think we’ve ever seen that.”
The shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS
While holding people hostage in the club’s bathroom, the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen who was killed by police during a shootout, called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Though it appears that he has no direct ties to ISIS, but rather was inspired by their propaganda, the terrorist group has taken responsibility for the shooting. The U.S. government is still investigating the claims, though Mateen’s father, who is Afghani, has been an outspoken supporter of the Afghan Taliban.
The gunman had been monitored by the FBI
In 2013, the FBI launched an investigation into Mateen after he told coworker that he was aware that the Tsarnaev brothers had planned to carry out the Boston Marathon bombing. He was questioned the following year because it was suspected he had ties to a suicide bomber. On both occasions, he was cleared.
Despite the fact that he had suspected terrorist ties, he had a firearm license and legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle he used to carry out the attack just last week.
New reports show that Mateen had previously visited Pulse as well as Disney World earlier this month. Officials suspect that he was monitoring surveillance measures and scoping out locations to carry out his attack.
Pulse was opened as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community
Pulse owner Barbara Poma opened the nightclub 12 years ago in remembrance of her gay brother, who died from AIDS. She opened the club that would allow people to embrace all aspects of the gay lifestyle.
“I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones,” Poma said in a statement. “Please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
We continue to send our thoughts, love and prayers to the victims and their families.