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: In what has now been declared the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, at least 50 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The death toll had originally been reported at around 20, but updates to the Pulse Orlando shooting soon indicated that wasn't the case. As officials work to determine exactly what happened Saturday night, new information continues to roll in.
Initially reported as having left "mass casualties," the incident is being investigated as a an act of domestic terrorism. And with yet another devastating act of violence in the United States, along with the at least 50 people were killed, more than 50 people were reportedly injured.
Here's what we know about the shooting so far.
The Florida governor and the Orlando mayor declared a state of emergency. Because of "foregoing conditions," Gov. Rick Scott declared Orange County, Florida, to be in a state of emergency. This gives officials additional emergency management powers and the ability to implement emergency plans as needed.
ISIS has claimed responsibility. Reports have indicated that an ISIS-associated media outlet claimed that the attack "was carried out by an Islamic State fighter." The suspect reportedly called 911 and pledged his allegiance to the terrorist organization before committing the devastating act of violence.
President Obama has spoken out on it. It's far from the first time an United States president has had to stand on a national stage and give a speech about a mass shooting, but he did it all the same, pointing out that the violence occurred at a "place of solidarity and empowerment." He said:
As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts. Friends who helped friends, took care of each other, and saved lives. 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 and to take action against those who threaten us.
The victims are being identified. The City of Orlando website has begun posting the names of the victims who have died. So far, four people have been identified: Edward Sotomayor Jr., Stanley Almodovar III, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, and Juan Ramon Guerrero.
The reports circulating about gay men being allowed to donate blood are false. A false rumor was reported on Sunday that OneBlood had lifted the policy on allowing men who have had sex to donate. According to Susan Forbes, OneBlood's vice president of marketing and communications, the organization must follow all requirements in place by the FDA. The FDA formerly had a lifetime ban on donations from men who have had sex with men, but it was recently changed to a ban on donations from men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months. OneBlood is still working to implement that policy. "We’re working as quickly as possible behind the scenes to implement the new policy, and we understand how people want to be able to help, and we thank them, but we have to make sure we have every thing right," Forbes told Bustle.
The city is asking that no one holds vigils right now. The City of Orlando is asking people to refrain from holding vigils for the time being. In a tweet from the city's account, a statement read: "We understand our community is grieving and that vigils are being planned, but PLEASE hold off on vigils — they represent a serious strain on our limited resources, which we need to dedicate to law enforcement and victims. If you are seeking a location to leave memorial items, please use the green space in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Orlando."
More to come ...