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: Early Sunday morning, a shooter opened up fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring many others, in what is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. On Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama addressed the horrific events during a live press conference, asking us all to "stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation." Read the transcript of President Obama's speech about the Orlando shooting in full, and let his words sink in. In times of immense crisis, it is essential that we stand together to show solidarity for those who are hurting from such a senseless act of violence, and to not let the actions of one person define who we are as a nation.
During his speech, Obama announced that "the FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism," and confirmed that as of yet we do not know what motive is behind these violent actions. He added in his speech that this could have happened to "any one of our communities," and that our nation's thoughts are with Orlando at this time.
Obama also pointed out that where the violence took place is important. "The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub, it was a place of solidarity and empowerment." He added that an attack on any American regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us.
Read the transcript of his speech in full below:
As Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, a horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people. We pray for the families, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Orlando, who have endured a terrible attack on their city.
Although it's still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. As Americans we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.
I just finished a meeting with FBI director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisors. The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation in partnership with local law enforcement. I've directed that the full resources of the federal government be made available for this investigation.
We are still learning all of the facts. This is an open investigation. We have reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. I have directed that we must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.
What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days we will uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us. This morning I spoke with my good friend Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and I conveyed to him the deepest condolences of the American people. This could have been any one of our communities. I told Mayor Dyer that whatever help he and the people of Orlando need, they are going to get it. As a country, we are going to be there for the people of Orlando today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come. We also express our profound gratitude to all of the police and first responders who rushed to harm's way. Their courage and professionalism saved lives and kept the carnage from being even worse. That's the kind of sacrifice that our law enforcement professionals make every single day for all of us, and we can never thank them enough.
This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The shooter targeted a night club where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a night club, it is a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights. So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us, and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as as country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.
Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or in a movie theater, or in a night club. And we have to decide if that is the country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.
In the coming hours and days, we'll learn about the victims of this tragedy. Their names, their faces, who they were, the joy they brought to their family and friends, and the difference they made in this world. Say a prayer for them. Say a prayer for their families. May god give them the strength to bear the unbearable. May he give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change. We need to demonstrate that we are defined more as a country by the way they lived their lives, than by the hate of the man who took them from us.
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. May God bless the American we lost this morning, may he comfort their families. May God continue to watch over this country that we love.