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How the Orlando nightclub shooting unfolded

Police stood near the area of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub on in Orlando on Sunday.MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

A gunman killed 50 people and wounded 53 at a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Here is what authorities know about how the attack developed so far:

• Before 2 a.m. Orlando time, Omar Mateen, a resident of Fort Pierce, Fla., about 120 miles from Orlando, parked his van outside Pulse, a gay nightclub. He called 911 shortly before the attack and swore allegiance to the Islamic State.

• At 2:02 a.m., he entered the club armed with an AR-15-type assault weapon, a handgun and many rounds of ammunition, and opened fire, said John Mina, the Orlando police chief.


An armed off-duty officer working security at the club confronted Mateen and engaged in a “gunbattle,” Mina said.

The gunman was outside the club at some point after the initial shots were fired, the chief said, then returned inside, and “this did turn into a hostage situation.”

Police then marshaled forces, bringing in a SWAT team and an armored vehicle. At some point, Mina said, there was contact with the gunman inside. “There was some communication, but we are not going to release that right now,” the chief said.

It is unknown, Mina said, whether the gunman was killing others inside the club as the authorities prepared cautiously for a confrontation. “Any time we have a hostage situation, we’re definitely going to use extreme measures to make sure we have enough personnel on the scene,” Mina said.

• At 3 a.m., the club posted a warning on Facebook.

At some point, police heard from inside the building that at least 15 people were hiding in a restroom.

• At 5 a.m., police began an attempt to rescue the hostages. They detonated two explosives to distract the gunman. Nine officers entered the club, and shots were again exchanged. Mateen was killed. One officer was shot in the head, but his Kevlar helmet saved him from serious injury, Mina said. At least 30 hostages were found alive.


The gunman was armed with an AR-15-type semi-automatic weapon and a handgun, Mina said. The rifle is the same type of gun used in the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; and San Bernardino, California.

Gun control advocates contend that semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 are a logical choice for mass shootings because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds. Defenders of the firearm say it is misguided to blame a gun that is used by millions of owners across the country in a responsible manner.

The weapon is legal to buy in most states, including Florida. In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban that prohibited manufacturing AR-15 for civilian sale with large-capacity magazines, bayonets or pistol grips. The ban limited, but did not end, sales of AR-15s. The weapons ban expired in 2004.

In a video taken by a bystander, more than 20 rounds can be heard being fired in rapid succession. This would indicate that the weapon had a magazine with a capacity commonly used in military service.

Like most states, Florida does not restrict the capacity of magazines. State bans have been ineffective: The shooters in San Bernardino used high-capacity magazines despite California’s ban on semi-automatic rifles with magazines with more than 10 bullets.