WASHINGTON - Hours after a gunman killed at least 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, the White House responded to the shooting.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest released a statement saying President Obama has been briefed by a counterterrorism administrator and will recieve "regular updates." He added "our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims."
"The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community."
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.
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