Update: In a press conference Monday morning, Orlando police confirmed that 49 people had been killed and 53 injured early Sunday morning atOrlando'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 byposting a tribute online. You can also attend a vigil near you to honor the victims.
Earlier: Many woke to tragic news on Sunday, learning that late the night before, a gunman had opened fire and taken hostages at a popular Orlando nightclub, killing 50 people and wounding many more, according to police estimates. The nightclub, PULSE, is a popular gay club, and it's currently unknown if the massacre — the worst mass shooting in American history — was intended as an act of domestic or international terrorism, a hate crime targeted at the club's LGBT population, or a totally random act. Several politicians have spoken out about the shooting and shown their support for the victims, including President Obama, whose response to the Orlando shooting is — as you'd undoubtedly expect — moving and heartbreaking.
"As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and resolve to protect our people ... We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate," Obama said when he took the podium at a scheduled press conference Sunday afternoon. "What is clear is [the shooter] was a person filled with hatred."
"The place they attacked is more than a nightclub," he added, referring to Pulse. "It was was a place of solidarity and empowerment." He called the massacre "a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon."
"In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation," he said.
Prior to Obama's press conference on the attack, which was released on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, the White House released a statement by the Press Secretary saying that Obama had been briefed about the shooting early on Sunday, and is receiving updates about the situation as the day goes on. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims," the statement read.
Soon after, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement of her own, writing that she "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."
Donald Trump, too, commented on the news, simply posting on Twitter, "Really bad shooting in Orlando. Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded." He later wrote: "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
Now, Obama is the latest political figure to make an official statement. It's always heartbreaking when the President has to speak out over an act of mass violence — this is, unbelievably, his 15th address after a mass shooting — and his speech on Sunday was no exception.