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 early Sunday morning, a shooter opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, causing what would become the deadliest mass shooting in American history with 50 people dead and at least 50 more injured. Orlando has declared a state emergency, and President Barack Obama has addressed the nation to call for solidarity in these dark times. One of the ways in which the President expressed his support for the victims was by ordering all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff to honor those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting.
The act of flying the United States flag at half-staff is one that signifies deep respect for all the victims. The order applies to flags at the White House, on all public buildings and grounds, military posts, naval stations, and on naval vessels. Flags will continue to be flown at half-staff until sunset on June 16, 2016.
The order came after the President gave a moving speech at the White House. In a time when the United States has once again been touched by terror, the President called for the country to stand together. Obama spoke eloquently about what the Pulse represented to the gay community. "The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub, it was a place of solidarity and empowerment," Obama said during his address.
The FBI will be investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism. While details are still coming in about the shooter, it is important to focus on the lives lost and on those who were injured. If you are looking for ways to help the victims and their families, you can donate blood if you are in the Central Florida area (in the coming days, as they have enough for the current time), show your support for the LGBTQ community, and change your Facebook profile picture to reflect that your thoughts are with Orlando.
This is a time of mourning for the United States, but also one of solidarity. As the nation's flag flies half-staff, make it known that you stand with the LGBTQ community and all those affected by these tragic events. As President Obama said in his speech, "In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another."