Update: In a press conference Monday morning, Orlando police confirmed that 49 people had been killed and 53 injured early Sunday morning at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. After opening fire on the crowd, an individual named Omar Mateen had taken hostages and was ultimately killed in a stand-off with police; Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly before the massacre. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency, and the massacre is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
The victims' names were released by the city of Orlando on its website as their next of kin were informed. Here are some ways to help the Orlando shooting victims and their loved ones; you can also donate to the victims' fund, as well as express your solidarity with the LGBTQ community by posting a tribute online. You can also attend a vigil near you to honor the victims.
Earlier: There has been another devastating shooting in America. Eyewitness accounts of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando report mass chaos and casualties after an individual opened gunfire early Sunday morning and reportedly held people hostage. The violence began at around 2 a.m. at the gay nightclub, where dozens were reported to be injured and there may be at least 20 deaths, according to Orlando Police Chief John Mina. Although the shooter's motive remains unclear, the shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. The gunman is deceased.
In one particularly horrific Snapchat video obtained by WESH 2 News, the sound of 24 gunshots can be heard going off in rapid succession from inside the club while people scream. Pulse nightclub posted a message to its Facebook page: "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running."
The club describes itself on its website as being "Orlando's hottest gay bar located in the heart of downtown." Normally packed with dancers, the club was filled with chaos immediately as the shooter opened fire. "Everybody was falling and dropping," one man says in a Periscope video posted to Twitter by Orlando Sentinel reporter Christal Hayes.
While hearing people's accounts and seeing photos of what happened is chilling, it's important. Gun violence continues to be an excruciating problem in the U.S. We can't afford another mass shooting before something changes.