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: A gunman opened fire and killed more than 50 people at Orlando nightclub Pulse early Sunday morning, according to Orlando police, making this the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. If you would like to change your Facebook profile picture to support Orlando shooting victims, as well as take a stance against gun violence, it's actually remarkably easy.
Law enforcement say that around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, an "organized and well prepared" gunman began firing shots and taking people hostage at Pulse, a nightclub that describes itself as "Orlando's hottest gay bar located in the heart of downtown." The shooter is deceased, and the case is being investigated as domestic terrorism.
There are many ways to help the Orlando victims and their families. If you are local to Orlando, there is currently a large demand for blood donations, specifically type O. Even if you aren't regional, you can still make a monetary donation to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where many victims are being treated. If you'd like to take a stronger stance behind gun control, consider writing a letter to your state's representative, or sign a petition like MoveOn.org's "Gun Control. Now." Update: The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that blood banks are currently at capacity, and donors should return in a few days.
And, last but not least, switch your Facebook profile photo to show that gun violence is not something you are willing to tolerate anymore. Although there isn't currently a filter pegged specifically to the shooting in Orlando, the nonprofit Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence has created a banner you can easily overlay over your photo on Twibbon to show that you will not stand behind gun violence of any sort. Here's how it works:
1. Visit this Twibbon page.
2. Log in through Facebook, and Twibbon will automatically pull in your FB profile picture.
3. Set it as your profile picture.
The image will appear on your Facebook page, and you can set it as your default photo.
It's a small gesture, but at this point, every little thing helps.
Images: Kathryn Kattalia