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: On Sunday morning, the devastating shooting in Orlando became the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history. The city's mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency in Orlando. According to the latest reports, the death toll has risen to 50 people deceased and more than 50 people in the hospital. Following this tragic news, you may be trying to get in touch with loved ones in the area to see if they're OK. If so, the number to call is 407-246-4357. The phone number, which is for the city's crisis hotline, is being widely shared across social media. The Orlando Police Department posted the following tweet:
Our focus right now is on identifying the many victims in this tragedy and notifying their family members. Hotline 4 family: 407-246-4357
Don't hesitate to share the phone number on your own social media feeds — you never know who may need the info. It's an easy way to help out.
Speaking of getting involved, if you're interested in helping the victims of the Orlando shooting, you can donate blood. Local donation center, OneBlood, says there is an urgent need for donations, especially O Negative, though O Positive and AB Plasma are also being accepted. Update: The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that OneBlood is overwhelmed with people wanting to donate, and is asking donors to make an appointment and return in the coming days.
If you can't donate blood, you can also check out this list of ideas of how to help out from anywhere in the country.