On Sunday morning, authorities confirmed that a shooting at an Orlando nightclub overnight had left at least 50 people dead, while more than 50 others had been transported for medical treatment. At the time of that announcement, the victims of the Orlando shooting had not been identified. That didn't stop the outpouring of supportive messages online, though, as people across the country awoke to the tragic news on Sunday.
The shooting occurred at around 2 a.m. Eastern time, according to authorities. The gunman, who was shot and killed by police, began shooting outside of a popular gay nightclub called Pulse. He then entered the club and continued shooting. There were also reports of a hostage-style situation at the scene. Following the shooting, CNN reported that bomb-sniffing dogs, SWAT teams, and the FBI were involved in the investigation, while local hospitals were placed on lockdown out of an abundance of caution.
As is typical with tragic shootings like the one in Orlando, police did not immediately reveal the identities of the victims. As #PrayForOrlando trended on Twitter throughout the morning on Sunday, it was clear that the victims — identified or not — would be remembered and honored. Many messages, particularly those from well-known gay and queer figures, included symbols and words of pride.
According to police, at least one police officer was injured during a shootout with the gunman. Although the roughly 50 lives that were lost will be deservedly honored and remembered, police also reported heroic actions that saved lives. A police officer had already been stationed at Pulse overnight, allowing the police department to respond quickly. When law enforcement blasted through a wall of the club, at least 30 people were saved in a rescue, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said on Sunday.
Overwhelming support was shown for those still in the hospital, also. A medical professional from one of those Orlando hospitals said at a news conference Sunday morning that blood donations would help doctors treating the nightclub shooting victims. Shortly thereafter, long lines were seen outside of at least one local blood donation center.
More to come...