tv Meet the Press NBC June 12, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT
the gunman used an assault rifle in the shooting. police saying it was an ar-15. mateen was also armed with a handgun. the gunfire began around 2:00 this morning local time and a hostage situation soon unfolded from there. about three hours later s.w.a.t. teams stormed the nightclub and a shooting ensued. mateen was killed by police gunfire. the fbi says it will be investigating this as an act of domestic terror. let's turn back now to nbc news justice correspondent pete williams. a lot of people around the country just waking up to this news out west this news out west perhaps. what more are you hearing about the shooter who you've learned is omar mateen? >> reporter: omar mir mateen, 29 years old, originally born in new york and lived in florida near his parents, had been married, we believe had a son. i think he's divorced. we don't know whether he's remarried. no criminal record that we know
of. may have been working as a security guard. one question obviously will be where did he get the weapons, and we're told that that process of tracing the weapons hasn't started yet. i think that that's understandable given that they had a very horrific scene inside that nightclub to clear first. once they have done their initial forensic look inside, then they will get the weapons out of there, turn them over presumably to the local authorities who will then enlist the help of the bureau o alcohol, tobacco and firearms who is the federal agency that will trace the weapons and see where they were purchased. we don't know anything in omar mir mateen's past that would have disqualified him from purchasing them legally and both could have been legally purchased. that's one question and the bigger question is why? what's the motive? that's the open question. there are early indications that mateen had connections with
people involved in radical islam. whether he was directed by that or whether he walked on his own or whether in fact this was something different, whether it was a hate crime. his father has told nbc news that he did not believe that religion played a role. his father said he was shocked by this, and his father also told us that a couple of months ago mateen saw two men kissing own the streets of miami and that it infuriated mateen and his father thinks that's what was behind this, but that's to be determined. that is the subject of an intense federal investigation right now to get more about his past, more about his past movements and try to figure out whether he ever said anything to anyone, left behind any notes, social media postings, e-mails. messages, text metages, anything that would give an indication of why he did this. he arrived there heavily armed. there were initial reports that he had an explosive device. we've heard conflicting information on whether it turned
out that there were explosives there or not, so i'm not quite sure how that worked out. but in any event he clearly targeted this place, but why this place? why last night? did it have something to do with the fact that we're now in the islamic period of ramadan? what is it utterly unrelated to islamic terrorism? simply anti-gay violence? we don't know that yet. >> too early to tell and that's what investigators are looking at right now. pete williams. thank you so much. if you're just joining us right now 50 dead, 5-0 dead in a nightclub shooting in orlando. 53 more injured. many of them critically. unfortunately, the death toll would rise because of that. there's a level one trauma center in orlando, the only one in the region that went into its mass casualty incident plan bringing all hands on deck. as patients came in, victims from the shooting, that began at 2:00 in the morning as a uniformed orlando police officer was working security at at night club, a very popular gay nightclub in south orlando.
he engaged the shooter in an early shootout that spanned then three hours of a hostage situation lasting until just after 5:00 eastern time when police finally went in with a s.w.a.t. team but, again, not until 50 lives were climbed -- were claimed by the shooter. let's turn to jim miklaszewski with reaction from the president. >> reporter: no direct reaction to the news that 50 were killed in that mass shooting in orlando but he was briefed on this early morning and we're told he would receive periodic updates on the investigation, so one would assume obviously that he has as many details as have been shared with us and probably more. the question is at this point the president has ordered the fbi and all appropriate organizations to throw all
efforts into this investigation to local authorities and the fbi and to provide assistance to those families in the community who have been affected by this tragic shooting incident. we're not told that the president is expected to today, but one can only go back to what question he was asked recently about what was his worst day, the most horrific day during his presidency and without hesitation he said it was the day that those dozens of schoolchildren in new town were massacred in that elementally school, so, again, we don't know if the president intends to address this today. he may want to wait until more facts are out before stepping forward, but, of course, you know, he has been a very strong advocate pushing for gun control and has been unable to push through the kind of legislation he would like to see enacted for gun control.
so on at least two scores this tragic shooting and the gun control issue, and if it turns out that this was some kind of terrorist event, we're not talking about domestic terrorism here, but if there was some connection to a terrorist organization he may want to speak to that or he may want those who are involved in the investigation to address that before he comes forward. but as of now we have no indication that the president himself intends to address this issue before reporters and cameras today. >> yeah. the president memorably becoming emoti emotional, talking about the shooting at sandy hook and police in this incident in orlando saying ar-15 was oozed, also used at sandy hook. we'll be checking back with you. if we get reaction from the president we'll find you. jim cavanagh is an nbc news law enforcement expert. jim, good morning. last time we talked the police estimate was that approximately 20 people were dead in this terrible shooting in orlando.
we now know that number has grown to 50. 50 people killed inside the building. 53 more sent to area hospitals, some of them critically injured in that shooting. you heard the press conference that we just listened to from multiple law enforcement agencies. how has this story changed for you in the last hour or so? >> well, when the mayor said 50 people, willie, it just knocks you off your chair because what happens is this guy goes in there, filled with hate. no matter the motive, filled with hate and wants to kill all these people and his objective is mass murder. and he has an ar-15 rifle, multiple magazines. we don't know how long or how big the magazines he had. but a standard magazine is 30 rounds and you can shoot that off just as quickly as you can pull the trigger, 30 seconds or left so when he -- he has an advantage because he's laying in ambush inside a closed crowded building. so he can start shooting into the crowd, and these are high velocity rounds.
they are very, very devastating, and he can reload that rifle and keep doing it while the initial overs is trying to get to him, willie, through the crowd and around the room, you know, back from the outside and however the initial officer has to get to him before he can engage him so he can wreak carnage inside with a rifle like that before the officer can even get to him, and that's how it happened so fast. that's why you wind up with 50 dead and 53 wounded. i mean, think of those numbers. this is one actor. i mean, we have bombings that don't have that many people killed and injured, so it's unbelievable that he could have done that so much. >> jim, in the early morning hours before this broke up the orlando police department conducted a controlled explosion. they tweeted it out. they wanted the public to know it was a controlled explosion. we've now been watching robots in the parking lot outside the parking lot, working a bag, perhaps working a vehicle we believe belonged to omar mateen.
what is that process like? what are they trying to do? what are they looking for? >> right, the bomb squad uses various disrupters, we call them. they have a water condition none. they have a shotgun charge. they have a steel slug. they can use explosives to countercharge so they have various ways they can open a package, a suitcase, a pipe bomb, whatever, and the robot can deploy a lot of disrupters and lay it down and shoot the slug with a water jet or shotgun round, however they rig the robot up for that particular task and you have an explosive entry into the nightclub, the chief outline that the s.w.a.t. used, and they use explosives to breach and run with the bearcat-operated vehicle and then engaged the killer. a big gun bat. even with nine s.w.a.t. members entering, this guy with his
ar-15 rifle loaded for bear, quite a large shootout and a large number of rounds exchanged before he was taken down. >> we heard from the fbi it was absolutely, using their words, looking at this as an act of terrorism. what is the approach now from the fbi in terms of the language they use? we've heard from pete williams that perhaps there's a past with this guy, that they have looked in and found that he's reached out and touched and perhaps been radicalized. how important is it to the fbi to talk about this case in a certain way publicly? you can almost see them holding back in that more recent press conference a few minutes ago? >> you know, exactly right. i had agents on half a dozen joint task force and it's very difficult for all those on the task force to identify the people and what they were doing and how deep they were into any radicalized movement and you make a great point about terrorism. that word is thrown out all around the country in these events and let me give you a
look from the police and the federal law enforcement. there's domestic terrorists. those are home grown terrorists with political motives from home. and then there's internationally inspired actors, trifrterrorist that are u.s. citizens or legally live her and inspired by al qaeda or isis and then, of course, there would actual al qaeda or isis actors who infiltrate into the country, that's international terrorism. internationally inspired, international and domestic. this would not be called domestic terrorism in hour vernacular in the police world. we would call it internationally inspired. if he was inspired by one of the radical jihadist ideology but you have here some genesis which nbc news has uncovered from his father from some good reporting which had genesis that could be of hate because he saw two men kissing in miami and his father said this affected him so this might have launched his hatred. now, did he then go to the radical website after his hatred
cooked because isis, for example, has a horrible record of murdering gay men in the theater, in the war theater over there, throwing them off building, stoning them to death and did he pick up on that and did that build in his consciousness, but -- so you can have multiple motives. motives don't have to be one thing. can you have a hate motive and then go to radical websites and get a little bit radicalized and have a radicalized-inspired motive so it doesn't have to be one thing. >> it can be a combination of thing. any way you look at it the an actch terror. radicalized by the nexus of fairer. his father suggesting he saw two men kissing in miami. if you're just joining us, we reached out and spoke to omar mateen father, was shocked by this and didn't feel that religion was a reason and he might have been reacting to the two men he saw kissing in miami
and became enraged by that. jim, we'll come back to you. we'll go back down to oeshldo where nbc's gabe gutierrez is set up for us. gabe, what more are you hearing there? >> reporter: hi there, willie this. scene is very active, but as we've hearing the officials have cleared the nightclub itself. they have gone through the painstaking process of clearing the nightclub, and that's when they got that updated death toll. at least 50 people are dead. 53 are injured. right now authorities are going through and they have a -- an explosive detecting robot, perhaps taking care of some of that scene. again, the suspect was found with that are ar-15 assault rifle as well as the handgun and that possible explosive device, so this investigation will continue on for quite a bit. we've been speaking with witnesses here on the ground, and they are just starting to come to terms with a massive scale of this, the worst mass shooting in u.s. history.
some of the witnesses we've been speaking with who were inside the nightclub, they described this utter chaos as it all unfolded. happened around 2:00 a.m. this morning and some of them shout the first few gunshots were part of the music. it was hundreds of people inside that dance club. they started streaming out, many of them crawling, dropping down on the ground and crawling. more than a dozen people were trapped in the bathroom, and police have said that the officers were able to rescue at least 30 hostages that were inside the building. again, around 5:00 this morning. the authorities decided to go in with an armored vehicle and plow into the night club and then use some sort explosive device, perhaps a flash bang, to distract the gunman who was then killed in a fire fight with officials. again, the death toll now climbing to at least 50 dead here in orlando, 53 injured and rushed to local hospitals and some of them in critical condition. again, that death toll could rise. people are coming to terms with
the magnitude of all of this. >> thank you, gabe. >> as we talk about a law enforcement investigation which is obviously critically important to this, let's not forget the human element. gabe was referencing some of the witnesses, some of the people inside that club telling stories of just simple horror. one man in an interview earlier in hour show said he saw a man with a gunshot on his back on the ground. took the bandana off his head and plugged the gunshot wound. he says he hoped that man made it but didn't know. let's go back down to orlando. want to bring in matt grant from our affiliate there. matt, where are you, outside the hospital in the what are you seeing? >> reporter: well, we're in front of a blood bank on west michigan avenue. you know, officials have said that there's an urgent need for blood and the orlando community has really stepped up in a big way and in an inspiring way. take a look behind me. you can see here at the blood bank the line literally wraps around the building and volunteers are out here passing out water and cookies for people in line. people are being told that
mobile advance are going to be coming in to help alleviate some of this demand, but people are not going anywhere. those in line that we talked to say they want to help in any way they can and i want to talk to someone over here right now. when did you get here? >> i got here bfabout 45 minute ago. >> what brought you out here? >> everyone knows there was an attack on our community and our city and i wanted to do what i could to help and i'm o-positive blood type and they needed o-positive blood type so i'm out here to -- to give my support and do what i can. >> and what did you think when you heard about just the devastation? >> just absolute shock. you never think that it's going to happen in your city until it does and -- and you kind of immediately start thinking about everyone >> and check caning with them and making sure they are okay. >> your friend is missing, right? >> yes he is. >> what brings you out here?
>> to donate blood. i'm 0 negative, if i could help out, i would. my boyfriend also came with me. so we are here to donate blood and hope that we can bring some relief to the blood centers, but also to the families, and the victims. >> thank you for doing that. and again, as you can see, just the line just wraps completely around the building, again volunteers are out here with food and water. any small way, people from the community want to come out here, do their part and help. for live in orlando. >> thank you so much the position that we saw from the press conference. calling for blood to come in. chuck todd has been standing by in washington. chuck, obviously there are many elements to this story. we don't want to play the politics too much. we still have 50 families waiting to hear about their loved ones here. but this will play into the presidential election. >> we've seen it on social media
where people have gotten into their political corners already. and almost refusing to hear the other side. the two presidential candidates have been reserved this morning so far. i think early on donald trump saying suspected terrorism. learning his lesson from a previous incident where he appeared to jump to concludes very quickly. hillary clinton more cautious than that. it's one thing for, i think, civilians to think -- to sort of tweet before they think sometimes and before we have all the information. i am stunned, quite frankly at the number of elected officials in some high elected offices just already drawing conclusions and that's dangerous because these people are elected officials, they are thought of many people may assume they must know something more than perhaps that they do.
and that part of it is really concerning to me because this is, of course, what i think creates a polarizing response and a polarizing atmosphere following this. when i think that there is going to be -- there is a lot of people that is exhausted from what feels as if we are just insecure. we are somehow living in this new normal. and this can be -- it shouldn't matter whether we classify this as the worst mass casualty, the worst hate crime. that shouldn't matter. we have this tragedy where a lot of people feel insecure in regular places. we have to solve that problem. and in a larger context, in a conversation that you are going to have political reaction and that's obviously politics plays a part in it. but can it be done with less rigidness. and again, i employ the elected officials out there that i'm watching tweet and draw a
conclusion before we know anything. they can have so much influence on the tone of civilians in social media. that is something concerning to me. >> the way our culture is you run to your corner and you fight to your side regardless whether you have the facts yet. politicians should be held to a different standard. you mentioned donald trump, i want to read his tweet. three hours ago, he tweeted really bad shooting in orlando. police investigating possible terrorism. many people dead and wounded. hillary clinton has september hseptember -- sent her thoughts out as well. we are going to be hearing about this not just today but as this campaign goes forward. >> it's under the surface, and we've watched it throughout this campaign. it bubbles up at moments and then it recedes. so it is -- you hate to assume that that is what's going to
happen here. i'm just 50 people, this is, you know, and by the way, this is pride week in the gay community and it's happening. you just -- this is -- this is just -- you can't sometimes put it into words when you -- 50 people, one person, it's mind numbering. i remember being at the white house for newtown and you just thought you couldn't believe things could get worse. this one feels -- it's just tragic. >> you know, it's interesting you bring the president into the conversation. obviously the white house correspondent, you were there when the president had to react to other shootings, including at sandy hook. he'll wait a little bit and see what the investigation brings forward on this. if it's an act of terrorism. what do you think he does today? what does he want to project? >> my guess is he -- it's going to be more of the condolences and the reassurance. i tell you the last couple of times that we had incidents with -- that have involved a
mass shooting like this, he's not shied away from going right to the gun issue. it is -- it is top of mind for him. it has been -- he'll tell you this off camera. he'll tell it to you on camera. he'll tell it to you off the record and on the record this issue of gun violence is something in what he believes is the issue of easy access to weapons of war. it's something that it frustrates him that there can't be some sort of legislative solution to this. and nobody says you are going to solve this just with one law, but he's very frustrated by this, considering how many times, think of tucson, aurora colorado, charleston, and san bernardi bernardino. it doesn't matter whether it's domestic crazy person driven, hate crime terrorism, his focus has been the ease of access to weapons of war that allow for a
mass shooting to take place so quickly like this. i imagine he will focus on that. >> we heard from police earlier it was an ar 15-style rifle that was used in the shooting. we'll be back to you shortly. let's go back to nbc's pete williams. you mentioned that omar mateen the shooter in this incident did have a license to carry guns. and had no criminal past. so he would clear a background check presumably. >> i'm sorry, i got a couple of people talking to me, willy. try it again. >> we were just talking to chuck about president obama's commitment to gun control and to get legislation to take ar 15s out of the hands of people like omar mateen. he did have a license to carry guns. and he presumably could have passed a background check. >> we have no indication at this point that these firearms were illegally obtained. now of course the question of whether you can buy
assault-style rifles, and high capacity magazines has been a matter of controversy since the clinton administration when there was a federal law that banned the sale of so-called assault weapons and the ar 15-style weapons were among those, as well as high capacity magazines. that law lapsed. some states have enacted their own laws. but most states don't have restrictions on that. and of course undoubtedly what you are going to hear is the question of whether if people would carry guns, then they would be able to respond to something like that. so i'm sure we are going to hear that involved in the public debate about this. but as to how they were obtained, that tracing we are told hasn't started yet. but there is nothing that we know that would have stopped him from obtaining these legally. the handguns, certainly, there are very few restrictions on that. we are going to see whether he had high capacity magazines.
we haven't heard that yet. the assumption would be that he did. but we'll know shortly what kind of rounds he was using, what the caliber was, whether he had high capacity magazines and if so how many. >> the weapons he used and the man who used them. omar mateen born in 198 6 29 years old. what will they be looking at in his background? >> they will want to reconstruct a chronology of minutes, days, hours, weeks, months, leading up to the shooting. if it turns out to be as his father said, precipitated by anti-gay hatred, his father was told us that the three people, the father, his son, omar mateen who is said to be the gunman in this incident, and mateen's son were in miami a couple of months
ago, saw two men kissing and touching and it enraged mateen, we are told. if it turns out to be that, then they will trace it back as well. but we've also been told by several federal officials that his name was in some kind of database of people who were at least looked at three years ago, but our assumption at this point is that that was not so much his own conduct as the fact that he was associated with other people that were interested in him. that's how these investigations tend to go. you get one name or one phone number and you do sort of a phone tree, who were they talking to? who were they meeting with? who were the people around them? and we believe that that is how he came on the federal radar three years ago. but that they would look closely at him then and didn't think that there was any further point in investigating him. and this is the kind of thing that goes on all the time. there are hundreds of people churning through these lists almost by the week. so nothing ever came of that, we
are told, but they will be looking at, they will be searching that van. searching his home, talking to his relatives, taking his life apart to see what led up to this. >> all right. pete williams, thank you very much. we'll get back to you shortly. just to recap if you are tuning in right now 50 people have died. 50 people were killed at the pulse nightclub. a popular gay nightclub in orlando, florida, when shooting began at about 2:00 in the morning local time. that's on the east coast time. 53 more people were injured. many of them critically, according to the trauma facility that brought those people there. in fact, at one point there were so many victims they didn't have enough ambulances and local police were putting people in the back of police pickup trucks to transport them to three different medical facilities. we want to go back now and listen to the press briefing to get everyone caught up that took place less than an hour ago. >> today we are dealing with
something that we never imagined and is unimaginable. since the last update, we have gotten better access to the building. we have cleared the building and it is with great sadness that i share that we have not 20, but 50 casualties in addition to the shooter. there are another 53 that are hospitalized. because of the scale of the crime i've asked the governor to declare a state of emergency. we are also issuing a state of emergency for the city of orlando, so that we can bring additional resources to bear to deal with the aftermath. our focus is going to be on identifying the victims and notifying the families. we are setting up a hot line for concerned family members. there is 407-246-4357. the identification process may take some time. so we ask for your patience, because we want to be accurate,
concerned family members can call the hot line, however, and let them know that you have someone that you are concerned about. i continue to be so proud of our community, the support that is shown, the response that has been made. i'm also thankful to entities from all around the country and the state of florida. the governor has made all the resources of the state of florida available. orange county has made all their resources available. we have assistance from the white house. so every possible asset we have brought to bear. >> thank you, mayor dyer. let me start by expressing my sympathy for the families, for the loved ones of those we have lost in the last 24 hours. we know that this affects a large segment of our community. we know that we have a very close knit lgbt community who
have been dramatically impacted by this. so to everyone who is impacted i want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. and that we are a united community, and that what we saw last night does not reflect what we feel in our hearts and our souls here in orange county. and i'm calling on every citizen here in orange county to never forget that we stand together in times of adversity, but we don't just stand together as the city of orlando and orange county, we stand together as a country. we have heard from texas, we have heard from states all across the country wanting to know what they can do to help. when evil like this comes to our community we respond in force. i guarantee you we will do that again. and thank you all for everything that you do to make this such a wonderful place to be. we know it's going to take time to be able to answer the questions of the loved ones and there is nothing, nothing more difficult than waiting to find out the status of the people that you love. please be patient, we are doing our best.
thank you. >> as mayor dyer said, at this point the nightclub pulse has been cleared and deemed safe of any devices. we are in the process of clearing the suspect's vehicle which is a van right outside. and just we ask that people be patient, unfortunately there are many victims inside the club. but like was said, you know, our priority will be on the identification of the victims, notification of the next of kin. i also want to take this opportunity to thank all of the outpouring of law en law enforcement support from as far away as boston and chicago that let us use their resources if needed. and of course great community support from the central florida law enforcement community as well. i also want to commend the heroic and courageous actions of the initial law enforcement officers, and also the heroic
actions of our s.w.a.t. team who rescued 30 possible victims, and brought them to safety. again at this point just patient because unfortunately this tragedy and the amount of bodies that are in there, the amount of victims, it's going to take some time. thank you. we'll answer questions at the end. >> aim sheriff jerry deming, and i join our entire community in offering our sympathy to these families who have lost loved ones. this has been a tragic day for all of us. and in that this is a day of worship in most places in america, we do call upon the members of the clergy to pray for those families, and this community and nation for healing. the last several hours the men
and women in law enforcement have been working diligently to ensure the overall safety of everyone involved. you all have seen most recently where there were members of our hazardous device team the bomb team have been working with the orange county sheriffs office and units from the orlando fire department to make sure that we did not have any secondary type devices or what have you, that were in the crisis site itself. that process has taken an extended period of time to ensure the safety of everyone and so that is why we have not been able to remove all of the victims, if you will, from the crisis site at this point. that process is continuing. we likely have another hour to two of operational necessity to ensure the safety before we can begin that process. but we do appreciate the
collaborative effort amongst all of the different local government, as well as our state and our federal government. we have all come together in unity to address this issue, and on behalf of our entire community, we thank you, the media, for covering these events and this tragedy. thank you very much. >> can you please confirm 50? >> we'll take questions after we are finished with prepared statements. >> hello. the fbi has confirmed the subject involved in this shooting incident. at this time we are making the notifications to the next of kin. so we will have that name to be officially released to you at the next press conference. what i want to put outright now is that as we all know in many situations people come and go to night clubs such as these. if anyone out there attended this nightclub and left before the shooting happened.
i would urge you to still call in and come and talk to our investigators, because you don't know exactly what you may have seen. we appreciate everyone coming forward no matter how small the evidence in your mind may be. we are setting up a family assistance center at the hampton in located at 43 columbia street. we currently have it now at rnc, we are going to go ahead and move it down to the hotel in order to accommodate more family members in an attempt to reunite people with either their loved ones or gather information on people who have not yet been located. >> can you confirm that number again 50? >> 50. >> you mentioned earlier that -- >> i thought that we had one more. >> we have a couple more people that are going to speak and then we'll answer some questions. >> good morning. as many of you are aware, a little after 2:00 this morning we were notified of many
victims, gunshot victims as central florida's only level one trauma center. we activated our mass casualty instant plan. we brought in six trauma surgeons to respond, including one pediatric trauma surgeon. we have spent the morning operating on a number of victims. we continue to operate on them. we have found many of them are critically ill as a result of their injuries. and we are in the process of trying to reunite families as we identify the names of these victi victims. as has been mentioned this will take some time. and we ask for your patience, but we will reunite the families and the victims just as quickly as we can. >> do you need blood donors. >> blood is a wonderful gift. that can be arranged through the local blood banks. don't come to the local hospitals, but you can work through the local blood banking to be able to donate and that
would be a tremendous help. michael cheatum. >> good morning. my name is mohammed, i'm the president senior of the islamic society of florida. i'm here today to stand as a faith leader with our law enforcement community and our city leadership in this hour of horror that was brought upon our city. i've worked with these leaders for over 20 years. i know their caliber, their strength, and their determination to make sure the city is safe, and i call on everybody in the community, anybody who has any information to please call the fbi, share
what you know. it may help answer many unanswered questions. i also call on my fellow faith leaders, jewish, christian, muslim, hindu, whatever faith you follow, please pray for the victims and their families in this hour on this sunday morning. it's supposed to be a beautiful morning, but it is already a very heart breaking morning. and i want to praise the courageous efforts of our opd who risked their lives, put their life on the line. one of the officers, as we heard, was injured, and that is a risk they take every day to protect us. no one could have predicted this. no one could have prepared for it. this could have happened
anywhere. it's like a lightning. so they have done marvelous job to save as many lives after the shooter began shooting and we are glad that the situation is completely under control. there are no other shooters that this person is not known to be connected with a network or other people. so the city residents and the visitors should feel safe. the city is as safe as the best city in the world. i want to also caution many in the media from rushing to judgment, and from, you know, sensati sensationalizing the story.
because we do not want this story to be shifted from the focus that it is. it's a horrible tragedy. we are mourning, we are sad, we are heart broken and it's not really time for any sensational news, just and rushing to judgment. so we should all wait until information, facts come out from the investigators and we will all see what happens, understand it, and stay together, to work together to keep our community strong. i want to thank mayor dyer, mayor jacobs, our city leaders, chief dema, i think many times in the past this has been
discussed as the worst nightmare, and we are sorry to know that it happened to us. we don't wish this on anybody else. and we hope this would be the last of the mass shuootings tha our country has been going through. i think as a nation we need to look at this issue of mass shootings because we just had one too many today. and i think we should do something about it to stop the mass shootings that are happening all the time. thank you. >> that was a press briefing a short time ago in orlando. you were listening to the islamic society of florida. calling for prayer. we heard the same call on this day of worship from the sheriff in orange county. they are asking for this country and the world to pray for orlando today. how did we get here? 2:00 this morning the shooting
began outside the pulse nightclub in south orlando, a very popular gay nightclub. a man walked in, omar mat team, 29-year-old living in port st. lucie. a shooting began with an orlando police officer who engaged the man, setting off a three-hour hostage stand off that ended about 5:00 eastern time in orlando with these sounds. [ gunfire ] that's gunfire you are hearing presumably between the police and mr. mat -- nine police officers were engaged in this swat rescue.
one of them was injured when he was hit in the head, saved only by his kevlar helmet and we are getting a look at this from the orlando police department. orlando police tweeting out the photo saying pulse shooting in which suspect was killed. opd officer was hit. kevlar helmet saved his life. what we know from pete williams is that omar mateen from port is it lucie was radicalized in some way. he was in a database of some kind, not perhaps because of any direct look at him, but because of people he knew perhaps. we are also talking to his father, nbc news reached out and found his dad who said he didn't believe in his opinion that this was about religion. he said he believed because it was his son had such anti-gay
fervor that he killed what is now believed to be 50 people in that place they went to have fun late last night and lost their lives. let's bring in gabe gutierrez he is down in orlando. good morning. >> good morning the magnitude is just sinking in. and the authorities are continuing their method i cinve of the crime scene. they have allowed by stchlt atnders to go loser. 50 dead, 53 injured, and the investigation into a motive is ongoing. now, throughout the morning we have been speaking with many of the witnesses saying it was just a chaotic scene inside that nightclub. many of them did not realize that it was gunshots right away. they thought it was part of the music, part of the show. but quickly many of them dove for cover and talked about how
they went outside and tended to the injured. he said he had recently moved to orlando and this was his first time in that club. here is his description of what happened. >> tell me what happened. >> the music was going, it was just like any other good time. everybody was doing their thing, dancing, drinking. and then you hear just bang, bang, bang, and it is continuous. so at first it sounded like the music. and then after that, you just, i looked over and i saw bodies falling, people screaming, the person next to me was shot, the bl blood splatter. and i fell down and crawled out. and people stomped on me. and the fence fell over. and when i was running i was crouched down. i was zig-zagging just in case, because you could still hear the bullets going off. you have no idea if they were outside, inside, because they
started out inside. but the gun -- you -- it still sounded like it was outside. >> how terrified were you at that point? >> i was terrified. i was in shock, i think, i kind of like looked around me and seeing people screaming the blood, and people laying on the ground. and there was the cops were just starting to get there. there was a couple that were already there, so it was nice to see how quick and responsive people were. because by the time the shots were going off, and i had gotten out, there were officers there. so everybody was -- there was so many people responding. the whole community did. >> when the first gunshots rang out, you thought it was part of the music. >> i was just dancing, and i had taken my first sip of my drink, and i was like, all right, new song. bass, you can feel the bass of it, because it sounded so real. >> and you moved to orlando just
a couple of months ago. >> yeah. >> did you get a chance to see the shooter at all? >> no, i didn't. it happened in the same area, though, in the dance area. >> in the same area. you said you saw one of the people who were hit. you took off your bandana and rendered aid. >> yeah. >> have you ever seen that much blood. >> no, the whole pant leg was drenched in blood and completely wet. and all i could do was like oh, my god, and i wasn't sure if that was the only bullet wound. so me and this other gentleman we were checking the rest of his body to make sure he wasn't hit anywhere else, and we got his name as junior. and i was holding his hand, telling him it was going to be okay. i was trying to be like, he was going to get through this, you will be okay. it's all right. and then paramedics showed up. and that's when they took over. we helped him on the stretcher. >> just a chilling story there from christopher hanson, one of the eyewitnesss on the scene. he still does not know what happened to that person who he
tried to help. the person with the gunshot wound. again, at least 50 people are dead. 53 injured and rushed to local hospitals. many people here wondering what the motive possibly could have been for all this. but the investigation still very active here at the scene behind me within the past few minutes. again, authorities have allowed some members of the media to get just a bit closer to the scene. but throughout the morning they have been going through with a bomb detecting robot clearing the scene, and now realizing that the death toll is much higher than initially thought. >> just staggering to hear witnesses like christopher hanson to tell us what he saw. to hear what he saw, what he heard, what he smelled, what he felt, describing the scene where he saw gunshot victims on the ground and trying to cover their wounds, plug them in some way with a bandana that was on his hand. unthinkable. gabe gutierrez.
we'll be back to you shortly. orlando commissioner patty sheehan. she goes to pulse nightclubs, she's friends with the owner. thank you for stopping with us and taking some time with us. my condolences to you and that entire community down there. have you spoken to your friend, the owner of pulse today? >> i have not talked to barbara yet. i can't imagine what she's going through. it's just been, you know, it's been -- it's been crazy all morning, to be quite honest. i've just really concentrated my efforts this morning and you know, my community, people want to have vi dpchltgils and do th like that. the law enforcement officials right now are working very hard. they have been basically, you know, they are going to be on this 24 hours, and right now we don't need to stretch law enforcement any thinner than they already have. this was a heroic on behalf of the orlando police department. there is officers everywhere
here. we have people inside. it's a horrific scene. it's the largest mass shooting in american history. a horrible thing for orlando to have happen here. but you know, right now it's just a lot. the last thing we need to do is stretch law enforcement anymore. so i'm begging people in my community if you want to do something, please go donate blood. i hear there is lines outside the blood bank are long. i'm delighted to hear that people are reacting in a way to help others. we are a giving good people here in orlando. this is a horrible tragedy that happened to our community. >> we had a live report from one of the blood banks, lines behind the block your city responding to that call. do you know if your friend barbara, the owner of pulse was there last night and is she safe? >> i don't know if she was there. i haven't even had a chance to talk to her. i'm hoping -- this is the difficult thing for me, i'm wearing two hats now. i'm a city commissioner, but these are also my friends, and i really haven't had a chance to
deal with the personal part of it yet. and i'm worried sick about them. you know, i mean, but for the grace of god, i could have been in that club last night. it's a club that i go to. it's a nice club, and you know, it's just a horrible, horrible situation. >> so you go to pulse all the time, tell me what kind of places it. what kind of crowd would have been in there last night. >> it was latin night. you know, of course i tend to go for the happy hour, i'm a little older now. but it's a nice club. it's really nice inside. you know, it's frequented not just by members of the gay community, it's a very -- it's a lovely club and it's horrible to think that something this awful would happen. it's such a nice place. >> have you spoken, commissioner, to anyone who was able to escape pulse last night? >> i have not. like i say, it's a little chaotic right now. what has happened that they have taken the -- they've taken
the -- a lot of the people who were witnesses over to opd to interview them. this is a large crime scene. like i said, we still have people inside. there is just a lot going on right now. so you know, it may seem like it's slow for information to get out, but i mean, i spent the first hour this morning just drafting a statement to get people to realize that the best thing they could do was to donate blood instead of having a mass situation where we are putting people possibly even in more harm's way. that's the last thing we need to do right now. b but i'm telling people, please go give blood and pray for the victims, and a lot of these folks, i mean, they don't even know -- they don't even know if their family members are among the dead yet. this is a horrible, horrible situation. >> have you heard anything in terms of the notification of next of kin. are you aware of anyone who lost someone at pulse last night? >> they have not made the notifications yet.
>> orlando city commissioner, we are grateful for your time. the country is thinking about your city and your community in particular this morning. thank you. >> like i say one more thing, if anyone needs grief counseling or services, the gay community center on mills is available to do that. they have grief counselors right now. if anybody needs help in orlando, please go to the gay, lesbian bisexual community center at 942 north mills avenue. >> let's listen in to senator bill nelson of florida. he's holding a press conference as we speak. >> our share of violence in two successive nights we've had killings. the singer performing live at the plaza shot down two nights ago and this horrific act. so what is happening to our country? we are going to have to dig down deep and ask ourselves who we
are as a people. we've got to think of ourselves as the common denominator of americans, not off on some cause. that is what we've got to explore deep inside at this point. that's the information that i have for you. i'll share more with you as i get it. >> based on -- [ inaudible ] >> i'll get that information for you once i have confirmed it all. but i'm just passing along to you the information that i have from the credible sources as well as directly -- that information is not from the fbi. let me make that distinction. that is from intelligence committee staff. but the fbi information for
senator feinstein and myself from mike feinbach. >> that's senator bill nelson of the state of florida addressing the press. we want to give you some reaction from both presumptive nominees in this presidential race. donald trump has tweeted really bad shooting in orlando, police investigating possible terrorism. many people dead and wounded. secretary hillary clinton tweeting woke up to hear the devastating news from florida as we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected with this horrific act. let's bring in nbc's kelly o'donnell. our focus is on the victims and their families. there are 50 people dead in that nightclub shooting. the issues at the center of this we are learning now, guns and terrorism will be front and center in this presidential
election. >> donald trump has also through his twitter account added a little more commentary on this incident saying horrific incident in florida. praying for all the victims and their families. when will this stop? when will we get tough, smart and vigilant? that is an important tone shift. earlier he had talked about the investigation but not respect for those involved. he took to that form of social media to also criticize hillary clinton. typical typically, and so few things aren't typical when there is a tragedy of this magnitude, politics get sort of put to the side. we have not seen that entirely from donald trump. that updated new comment from him seems to go at an acknowledgement that he need today at least in some way express concern for those victims and to talk about it in a slightly different way.
we of course are hearing from many lawmakers from around the country. so many of them look at this through multiple lenses, first wanting to get the facts from the intelligence community, the fbi and other investigative entities that are on the ground that can add to this. but also knowing there is always a political dynamic to this with respect to issues that relate to guns, to how the country accomplicpolice polices with regards to terrorist threats. and once more aspects are known in terms of defining a moment, there is that political fallout. then you have what is a florida-based situation here. so we have heard from lawmakers there. and we've also heard some commentary about the issue of providing blood to those victims we know at least 53 have been hospitalized and need in orlando for additional blood supply for those who are receiving treatment, surgery and so forth. and congressman talking about
the fact that there is this need and he expressing concern about a ban on gay men donating blood. that goes back to the days of h hiv aids. should that be revisited. hillary clinton commented in more personal terms waking up to the horror of this and wanting to know more about what would happen, speaking out to the victims. i can also tell you that vice president joe biden who had planned to go to florida today for a political event, for the head of the democratic national committee, but also running for reelection herself for her seat in the house in florida, that has been put on hold. and the vice president will return to washington tonight. while we know that the president has been advised and updated by his homeland security advisorad there has been no public statement from the president yet. we don't know if this will rise to that at some point today when
additional facts are known. and of course there is this sense of what do the candidates do in terms of adjustments to their schedule, we were just beginning what would be a very vigorous schedule for hillary clinton hitting five battle ground states in the next few days. it raises the question, will she feel an obligation to perhaps pause. that often also happens in circumstances like this. but we've also heard from the gun rights community in terms of those concerned about making this an issue of terrorism, perhaps mental health, which has been a part of other instances, and also those who were advocating for greater gun control. when we hear from for example a connecticut senator chris murphy milwaukeeing abo talking about how guns are concerned in violence. >> a muted response from. the more recent one he asked, when will we get tough, smart and vigilant. in the past used it to get into national security. if you are just joining us as
come up on the top of the hour. the united states of america has now experienced the worst mass shooting in its history. at least 50 people are dead, so. it took place at pulse nightclub in orlando, a popular gay nightclub. the shooting began at about 2:00 local time, eventually three hours later at 5:00 or sometime thereafter a gun fight ensued when the s.w.a.t. team stormed the shooter. the gunman has been identified as omar mateen born in 1986 in new york. lived in port st. lucie, florida. authorities are investigating whether or not he had radical influences. officials do say this is being investigated as a domestic act of terror. pete williams has been all over this story for us this morning. pete, i understand you have some new information. >> well, a couple of things, willie. one is there had been some suggestion early on that mateen, the gunman, had been explosives with h w