Hours after a gunman killed at least 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, the White House responded to the shooting.

Photos | 50 dead in Orlando shooting

The shooting happened early Sunday at the Pulse nightclub on Orange ave in Orlando. A heavily armed assailant opened fire in a packed club, killing 50 people in the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history, authorities said.

A federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY the suspect has been identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged the suspect in a gun battle outside the club. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m.