U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told CNN there’s information the suspect worked for a security company and indications are he had some links to radical Islam.
He said that the gay club could have been targeted “because of views that exist in the radical Islamic community.”
The FBI confirmed this is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States.
Ronald Hopper, FBI assistant special agent in charge, said the suspect, born in Florida, whose parents are from Afgahnistan, has not been positively identified by his next of kin.
Police Chief John Mina said it was unknown how he got inside the club.
He said more victims were found to be in the club than originally reported after authorities inspected Pulse and it was determined not to have other devices inside.
An Orlando iman, Muhammad Musri, of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, cautioned “many in the media from rushing to judgment and sensationalizing the story because we don’t want the focus to be shifted from where it is.”
He said everyone should work together to find out what happened and urged anyone with information on the shooting to contact the FBI.
“Please pray for the victims in this horror on this Sunday morning. . . . It’s supposed to be a beautiful morning but already it’s a heartbreaking morning,” Musri said.
“Like lightning,” he added, “it could happen anywhere.”
The Orlando shooting appears to be the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history; the previous was the shootings at Virginia Tech in which 32 people were killed.
Omar Saddiqui Mateen was identified in reports as a 29-year-old U.S. citizen of Afghani descent from Port St. Lucie, Florida. CBS News reported he has ties to radical Islamic ideology. His name was confirmed by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) at a news conference.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said bodies remain inside the club while authorities make sure there is no secondary device that remains undiscovered. Authorities were still working to clear the suspect’s vehicle to ensure there are no devices.
Fifty people were killed in the shooting, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at a news conference. He said another 52 people were hospitalized.
Earlier, authorities confirmed to CNN the shooter’s name is Omar Saddiqui Mateen. No further details about Mateen was available.
Club patron Christopher Hansen told CNN when he first heard the shots he thought it was part of a song until he saw “bodies falling down.”
“I had to crawl my way out,” Hansen said. “I felt the cement on my elbows and knew I was OK.”
Hansen said one man who he described as “Spanish speaking” was shot in the back. “I was holding his hand and saying, ‘Stay with me,’ and holding the pressure down.”