Florida gay nightclub shooting: Hostages taken by attacker 'wearing bomb vest'

Orlando police confirm there are 'multiple injuries' and warn the public to stay away from the area

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 13 June 2016 11:33
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Emergency services outside the nightclub in Orlando where a hostage situation is ongoing
Emergency services outside the nightclub in Orlando where a hostage situation is ongoing

A gunman who police fear could have a bomb has reportedly taken several hostages after opening fire at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Local police said there were "multiple injuries" at Pulse in Orlando and warned people to stay away from the area.

A Facebook post by the club posted at 2am local time (7am UK time) said: "Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running".

Local TV reporter Stewart Moore said "more than 20 people have been shot" with an assault rifle and that the man remained barricaded inside the club with hostages.

He said there were fears the shooter may be wearing a bomb, and Orlando Fire Department's bomb squad and hazardous material team were at the scene.

Mr Moore said people were still trapped inside the club with gunshot wounds.

A police dispatcher told Agence France Presse: "There are injuries. I am not sure if there are any deceased at this time".

Witnesses reported seeing the shooter open fire around 2am.

Anthony Torres said on Facebook he "made it out just barely as we started to hear fire being shot" and "people are screaming that people are dead".

He said people were being "loaded up onto stretchers" outside the club.

One witness, Rosie Feba, told the Orlando Sentinel her girlfriend had said someone was shooting but she had assumed it was part of the music at first.

She said: "She told me someone was shooting. Everyone was getting on the floor.

"I told her I didn't think it was real, I thought it was just part of the music, until I saw fire coming out of his gun."

Ms Feba and her girlfriend ran out of the club, helping a man who had been shot on the way out.

The couple were shaken but unhurt.

Another witness, Ricardo J Negron Almodovar, said: "I was there. Shooter opened fire at around 2:00am.

"People on the dance floor and bar got down on the floor and some of us who were near the bar and back exit managed to go out through the outdoor area and just ran.

"I am safely home and hoping everyone gets home safely as well".

He said the gunman had begun shooting at the ceiling initially because the glass from the lights overhead was falling onto the dancefloor.

One Twitter user, Emilio, tweeted to say he and three others were hiding in a dressing room before later confirming he was "finally out, safe".

He said: "Please tell the cops we're at Pulse Orlando hiding in the dressing room there was a shooting.

"Four of us still hiding. Lights are off in club. Cops are here but haven't got us yet".

Amateur footage at the scene has recorded the sound of shots being fired outside the club.

Dozens of emergency vehicles are currently surrounding the club.

The motive for the attack is unknown.

More follows...

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