Orlando Nightclub Massacre

Orlando Nightclub Massacre Live Blog: Latest Updates on Pulse Shooting

Forty-nine people were killed and 53 more were wounded when a gunman launched an assault on a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday.

What we know:

  • The shooter, killed in a shootout with police after a three-hour siege, was Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida.
  • Mateen called 911 before the attack, expressing fealty to ISIS. He had been probed by the FBI twice, but the investigations were closed. He legally bought the two guns used in the attack within the past week.
  • The names of nearly all the victims have been released. Here are some of their stories.
  • Twenty-seven victims remained hospitalized Tuesday. Six were in critical condition.


FBI Visits California Family of Omar Mateen's Wife

Three FBI agents have visited California relatives of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen, the agency confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday.

An FBI spokesman said the plainclothes agents conducted what's known in law enforcement parlance as a "knock and talk" Tuesday afternoon at the childhood home of Noor Zahi Salman, the second wife of Mateen, who killed 49 people Sunday at the gay nightclub Pulse.

NBC News reported earlier Tuesday that Salman has told federal agents that she was with Mateen when he bought ammunition and a holster and that she tried to talk him out of carrying out the attack.

Orlando Gunman's Wife Told FBI She Tried to Talk Him Out of Attack 3:12

Salman's mother, Ekbal Salman, is the primary occupant of the two-story stucco home in Rodeo, east of San Francisco. Several other family members were in the home when FBI agents visited, including two of Noor Salman's younger sisters and two nephews. It couldn't immediately be determined late Tuesday whether the family cooperated with the agents.

Disputing media reports that agents raided the home, law enforcement officials said the visit was typical for an investigation of this type, and the FBI spokesman said nothing was taken from the residence.

The FBI said it had no further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Like Mateen, Salman was previously married. Her first husband, Ahmed Aburahma of Tucson, Arizona, told NBC News on Tuesday that he and Salman lived in Illinois during their marriage from about 2005 to 2009.

"I don't know nothing what happened after we got divorced," Aburahma said. "She went back with her family. I didn't hear anything after that."

Family friends told NBC News that Salman and Mateen married in 2010 after meeting on an online dating site.

— Bita Ryan, Andrew Blankstein and Tracy Connor

Gunman Omar Mateen Donated Blood Two Weeks Before Killings

Omar Mateen donated blood just two weeks before he killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a Florida blood bank confirmed Tuesday.

Susan Forbes, vice president of OneBlood, a nonprofit blood bank serving several Florida cities, said a staff member recognized Mateen from photos in the media after Sunday's shootings. Mateen gave a donation at a mobile blood drive in Fort Pierce on May 29, Forbes said.

Some witnesses have said they recognized Mateen as a former patron of Pulse and as a user of gay social media, raising the possibility that he may have been gay. In line with recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, OneBlood and other local blood banks have been rejecting donations from gay or bisexual men who have had sex with other men in the past year.

Omar Mateen's secret life? Reports say shooter frequented gay nightclub, apps 2:27

Forbes said Mateen's donation was "within our normal parameters for blood donation including screening questions and post-donation blood testing."

Forbes said OneBlood reported the donation to investigators "in an abundance of caution in case it had some relevance to their investigative efforts."

Elisha Fieldstadt

Orlando Survivor Recounts Bathroom Full of Blood, Bodies

Orlando Shooting Survivor: 'The Guilt of Being Grateful to Be Alive Is Heavy' 1:35

The group of four girls that massacre survivor Patience Carter entered Pulse Nightclub with on Sunday night was cut in half by the time their evening out was over.

Patience Carter, 20, expressed Tuesday the emotional weight of being part of the still living pair.

"The guilt of feeling grateful to be alive is heavy. Wanting to smile about surviving but not sure the people around you are ready," Carter read from a poem that she said she wrote overnight before speaking to reporters from the hospital. "I feel guilty about screaming about my legs in pain because I could feel nothing like the other 49 who weren't so lucky to feel this pain of mine."

Carter was on vacation from Philadelphia with two friends, Akyra Murray and Tiara Parker, and they decided to go to Pulse. At the door, they met Amanda Alvear, who invited Carter to be her plus-one after Carter complimented her shoes, she said.

Alvear went to the bathroom at some point during the evening, and that was the last Carter saw of her. Gunshots started ringing out before Carter could find her new friend.

Carter and Murray escaped outside during the first spray of bullets but went back into the club when they realized Parker wasn't with them.

All three sought refuge in a bathroom with others when they realized the gunman was still firing shots, but he cornered the group in there and started shooting. "This wasn’t a game this was very real," said Parker, who was shot in both legs.

"I was just like I really don’t think I’m going to get out of here," Parker said. "I was just begging God to just take me to take the soul out of my body. I didn’t want to feel any more pain."

She said the gunman and his victims were in the bathroom together for hours, and at one point the shooter, Omar Mateen, called police and "said that he reason he was doing this was that he wanted America to stop bombing his country." He also pledged allegiance to ISIS during that call, she said.

"We knew what his motive was and he wasn’t going to stop killing people until he was killed — until he felt his message was out there," Carter said.

Police finally did break through the bathroom wall, but not before Carter watched Mateen gun down three more of his hostages.

"I could see piles of bodies. The bottom of the toilet was just covered with hand prints and blood. Some were dead and some were moaning. I could see my best friend on the floor," Carter said.

Her friend, 18-year-old Akyra Murray, still had a pulse, so before a SWAT officer picked her up, Carter grabbed Murray's cellphone so that she would have it in the hospital.

But Murray, Alvear and 47 others didn't survive.

"The guilt of feeling lucky to be alive is heavy It's like the weight of the oceans walls uncontrolled by levees. It's like being drugged through the grass with a shattered leg and thrown in the back of a Chevy," Carter read from her poem. "It’s like being rushed to the hospital and told you're going to make it, when you laid beside individuals whose lives are brutally taken."

Halimah Abdullah

Obama Rips Trump's Muslim Ban: 'Where Does This Stop?'

Obama Answers Critics Over Not Using the Phrase 'Radical Islam' 1:17

In forceful comments Tuesday that repudiated calls to use the term “radical Islam” while underscoring his administration’s efforts to defeat terrorism, President Barack Obama blasted such language as dangerous and reactionary and slammed Donald Trump's proposed ban on Muslims.

“There’s no magic to the phrase radical Islam. It’s a political talking point,” Obama said. “The reason I am careful has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with defeating extremism.”

The president also directly singled out Trump, who on Monday doubled down on his proposed ban of Muslim immigration and expanded his proposal to "suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or allies."

Related: After Orlando, Donald Trump Would Expand Muslim Immigrant Ban

Why Republicans Say 'Radical Islam' and Democrats Don't 2:42

"Where does this stop?" Obama asked on Tuesday in an emotional appeal. "Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Place them under special surveillance? Discriminate against them because of their faith? Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want. It doesn’t reflect our ideals."

The president called this type of mindset "dangerous" and such "rhetoric, loose talk and sloppiness" careless comments that undermine greater goals and higher ideals of a democracy.

"If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush we are doing the terrorists' work for them," Obama said adding " We don’t have religious tests here. If we even abandon those values we will not only make it easier to radicalize people around the world we will betray… the very things that make us great. We can not let that happen. I will not let that happen."

Watch Obama's Full Speech on ISIS, Terrorism 25:27
Courtney Kube

Army Secretary: 'It Could Have Been Me'

Eric Fanning, the first openly gay secretary of the U.S. Army, tweeted that the horrific massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida has hit home for him.

"It could have been me that night," he said in a post. "And now that I'm #Army Secretary, it's doubly personal."

Forty-nine people were slaughtered and 53 others were wounded in Sunday's shooting at Pulse in Orlando.

At least one of the victims was in the military.

Army reservist Capt. Antonio Davon Brown, a 29-year-old graduate of Florida A&M University, had been deployed to Kuwait from April 2010 to March 2011. He won many accolades, including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, according to the military.

Fanning, 47, was confirmed as Army secretary in May — also becoming the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military branch.

Elisha Fieldstadt

Like a 'War Scene': Doctors Describe Hospital Chaos

Doctor Says Orlando Trauma Room Was Like a 'War Scene' 1:02

Doctors at the Orlando trauma center where many victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting were taken described the frenzy to save as many of the wounded as possible as they were dropped off by the truckload.

"This was somewhat of a surreal experience," said Orlando Health director of surgery Dr. Will Havron. "We were just given patient after patient after patient."

Other doctors described two waves of patients. About 20 were dropped off at about 2 a.m., and that number doubled just a couple hours later once a SWAT team was able to get into Pulse nightclub and rescue the hostages who were still alive.

The close proximity of the club to the medical center was advantageous to victims, but created a difficult situation for medical staff who had little warning of the influx of arrivals coming in stuffed ambulances and even pick-up trucks, doctors said. The victims were lining the hallways, they said.

Orlando Health medical director Dr. Joseph Ibrahim said the drop-off area looked like a "war scene."

"There were patients in every corner," he said.

"The flow did not stop," said Dr. Chadwick Smith, the attending trauma surgeon on Sunday. But Orlando Health staff sprang into action. Smith said every doctor, nurse and resident he called said, "'I'll be right there.’"

"It was singularly the worst day of my career and the best day of my career," Smith said, lauding his colleagues for working quickly and professional in the midst of chaos.

Angel Colon, a victim who was brought to Orlando Health, also expressed his gratitude to hospital staff.

"The way that you guys have taken care of me in this hospital is amazing," Colon said. "You guys are always there. I will love you guys forever for doing that for me."

Colon described his horrific ordeal in the club, as he laid on the floor with three gunshot wounds to the leg and heard gunshot after gunshot as the shooter, he said, was putting bullets in those already lying on the floor to make sure they were dead.

"This person had to be heartless. I don’t know how you could do something like this," Colon said.

Man Recounts Being Shot During Orlando Massacre 4:14

Nine of the 49 slain by gunman Omar Mateen, 29, died at the hospital, according to Orlando Health officials. They died within minutes of arriving.

Of the 44 survivors that were hospitalized at Orlando Health, 27 patients remained Tuesday. Six remained in critical condition, and one or two of those patients were "profoundly ill."

"The big question is what their long-term outcome will be once we get them out of the hospital. My concern is that they will have lasting impact from this," said Orlando Health's Dr. Michael Cheatham, warning that the death toll was still at risk of rising.

How Should Parents Talk to LGBTQ Youth About Orlando?

Before heading to West Hollywood to march in the LA Pride Parade on Sunday, Polly Kim briefly told her 19-year-old daughter about the shooting that had occurred at an Orlando gay bar earlier that morning. It wasn’t until the two arrived at the parade and saw the increased security that they began to learn the full extent of the tragedy.

“There were candles and flowers and posters mentioning (the number of) victims, so we realized it was much more than we had originally heard,” Kim said.

Read the full story

Gun Store Owners Expect Rise in Sales

Brandon Wexler shows a customer a weapon that she was picking up at the end of the three-day waiting period at K&W Gunworks store on Jan. 5, 2016 in Delray Beach, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

It’s been sadly proven time and time again: Mass shootings are good for gun sales.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, and again after the San Bernardino workplace shooting last December, firearm purchases shot up. In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting this weekend, analysts say it’s logical to expect that the same pattern will hold, and central Florida gun store owners already are reporting an influx of customers days after the attack.

Read the full story here.

Pete Williams

Gunman's Wife Tried to Talk Him Out of Attack, Sources Say

The Orlando gunman's wife has told federal agents she tried to talk her husband out of carrying out the attack, NBC News has learned.

Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Zahi Salman, told the FBI she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said. She told the FBI that she once drove him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out.

Read the full story here.

Did the Police Respond Quickly Enough?

Orlando shooting: Did the police respond quickly enough? 3:51

All 49 Victims' Families Have Been Notified

Remembering the Names of the Orlando Shooting Victims 2:04

All 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre have been identified, city officials announced Monday night.

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25, was the last name to be released, after his family was notified.

For more details about the innocent lives lost in the horrific tragedy click here.

Victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings
Kristen Welker

Obama to Travel to Orlando Thursday

President Barack Obama will travel to Orlando on Thursday to to pay his respects to victims' families and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday evening.

The announcement came after two consecutive days of remarks from Obama on the massacre.

On Sunday, he offered condolences, saying that the gunman targeted a "place of solidarity" where "people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live."

On Monday, he criticized "lax" American gun policies, just as he did after mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; and San Bernardino, California.

"We are going to have to think about the risks we are willing to take in being so lax in how we make powerful firearms available to people in this country," Obama told reporters. He later added: "It's crazy. It's a problem and we have to do some soul-searching."

Obama: 'We Need to Do Some Soul Searching' After Massacre 1:51
Pete Williams

FBI Investigates Whether Orlando Gunman Omar Mateen Visited Pulse Before Massacre

Orlando man recognized gunman from gay dating apps 1:56

The FBI is looking into the possibility that Omar Mateen visited Pulse nightclub and tried to communicate with some of its patrons on a gay dating app before he gunned down 49 people at the club in Orlando, authorities told NBC News on Monday.

Cord Cedeno, a customer at the club, told MSNBC-TV on Monday that Mateen tried to get in contact with him through Grindr, a dating application for gay and bisexual men, but that he blocked Mateen "because he was creepy."

Cedeno said that after Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse early Sunday, "I recognized him off Grindr." Mateen, 29, was killed in a shootout with police after a three-hour standoff.

"That's not his first time there," Cedeno said. "He's been there several times. I know that for a fact."

An FBI official told NBC News that investigators are reviewing similar reports, as well as statements by members of Orlando's gay community who said they recall having seen Mateen at the club several times before.

Miguel Almaguer

Pulse Owner Vows: 'I Will Not Let Hate Win'

Orlando Club Owner 'Can't Stop Imagining' What It Was Like for Victims 1:22

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were killed, promised Monday that the club will "always continue to be the heartbeat of Orlando."

"I will not let hate win," said Poma, who said she started the gay nightclub 14 years ago to honor her brother, John, who died of AIDs in 1991.

"For nearly 14 years, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community," she said. "It should be the last place for such a tragedy."

Poma told NBC News that she learned of the shootings Sunday from the club's manager in what she called "the most surreal phone call I'd ever received."

"And finally, it sunk in, and you can't wrap your brain around that, you just can't," Poma said.

"I can't stop — I can't stop imagining what that was like for them," she said after an emotional pause. "I don't think I'll ever stop that."

Massacre Claims Three Close to Florida Woman

Woman Loses Two Neighbors and Her Daughter's Childhood Friend to Mass Shooting in Orlando 1:26

A Kissimmee, Florida, woman woke up to the horrible news out of Orlando like the rest of the country, but she slowly that she realized she knew not one but three people killed in the attack; her daughter's childhood friend and two of her neighbors.

Luz Alicia Ruiz said she was floored when she got news that two of her neighbors, Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26, and Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31, were gunned down in cold blood, along with Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, a friend of her daughter's whom she has know since he was in the second grade.

Silva, whose nickname was "Culi," met Ruiz's daughter in Puerto Rico when both of them were in the second grade.

"He was a true friend," Ruiz said outside her home. "He always made me laugh."

Ruiz's family moved to the United States about six years ago. Silva wasn't far behind.

Ruiz simultaneously heard from relatives that the three had died as she sat stunned on her couch and saw all three names flash across the screen. Carrillo and Aracena had lived with their mother and sister next door for the last year. Carrillo was a native of Venezuela and came to the United States to seek a better life.

"I feel angry, and I feel sad at the same time," Ruiz said. "They were great neighbors. They were awesome people."

Donald Trump, Omar Mateen Born Only a Few Miles Apart

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said if his "ban on Muslims" were in place, Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen wouldn't have been able to commit the tragic massacre on Sunday.

But Trump and Mateen were born just a few short miles away from each other: The candidate was born in Queens, and grew up in a wealthy section of the borough called Jamaica Estates.

While, Mateen was born in neighboring Nassau County, approximately seven miles east, in New Hyde Park, a village of just under 10,000, according to a 2006 petition for a name change.

Tom Winter

Dealer Who Sold Guns Used in Orlando Massacre: 'I Don't Make The Laws'

The Florida gun dealer who sold two guns to Omar Mateen said Monday that his conscience is clear.

"It's horrible but I don't make the laws," Ed Henson of the St. Lucie Shooting Center, a range and gun shop, told NBC News. "I abide by them."

"My heartfelt condolences for the family and victims and I can't imagine the horror they face," Henson, a retired NYPD police officer, added. "I did everything by the book. I'm not going to be made into a villain."

Authorities said both weapons — a .223 caliber AR-type rifle and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol — were bought legally, even though the FBI investigated Mateen for 10 months in 2013 and 2014 over allegations he had terrorist ties. He was placed on a watch list but then removed after the FBI determined there was nothing to the claims.

Read full story here.

Tom Winter

Gunman Called the Boston Marathon Bombers 'Homeboys'

During one of the 911 calls between an operator and the Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, he called the brothers behind the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing his “homeboys,” an FBI official said.

Yet no evidence has been collected that shows a connection between Mateen and the Tsarnaev brothers, said Hank Shaw, head of Boston's FBI field office.

Citing standard practice, the statement said that the office is sharing "real-time information and intelligence with our federal, state, local and community partners. Currently, we have no specific, credible threats to our area as a result of the Orlando attack."

Orlando Gunman May Have Had Plans For Disney World Attack

The FBI is investigating whether the gunman, Omar Mateen, may have traveled to Disney World to plan an attack there, according to two law enforcement sources.

One source said it was "pre-operational," meaning Mateen had not yet developed a plan. A second source was less certain that he had even gotten that far, adding that there is a possibility it was simply a social visit.

Investigators are reviewing all aspects of the suspect's travel.

Halimah Abdullah

Obama: Gunman Doesn't Seem to be Part of 'Larger Plot'

Obama: 'We Need to Do Some Soul Searching' After Massacre 1:51

President Barack Obama on Monday reiterated his frustration over the lack of comprehensive gun reform in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

"We are going to have to think about the risks we are willing to take in being so lax in how we make powerful firearms available to people in this country," Obama told reporters. He later added: "It’s crazy. It’s a problem and we have to do some soul-searching."

The president said he is wary of an "either/or" debate — gun control versus terrorism.

"It's not an either/or — it’s a both/and" debate, Obama said.

This is the 14th time the president has addressed a mass shooting.

Obama has sounded similar notes after mass gun violence in Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; and San Bernardino, California.

The president said the Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, was likely motivated by "extremist information distributed over the internet," but there was no clear evidence he was part of a larger plot.

Obama: Powerful Firearms Too Easy to Get in America 1:30