A gunman opened fire at a Downtown Orlando nightclub killing 49 people and injuring at least 53 Sunday at 2 a.m.
Pulse, a popular gay bar, is located on Kaley Street and Orange Avenue. The nightclub was hosting a Latin night at capacity. RuPaul's Drag Race alumni provided entertainment.
News of this tragedy comes after "The Voice" contestant and singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed after a concert in Orlando on June 10.
Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard from Fort Pierce, has been identified as the gunman. He was dead by 6 a.m following a shootout with police that included them ramming a truck into Pulse to let out hostages.
Some club-goers say they recognized Mateen as a Pulse patron, others say he contacted them on the dating app Jack'd.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” an unnamed former classmate told the Palm Beach Post.
ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack, but according to CNN, he did not appear to be tied to them aside from referencing the group in a 911 call before the incident. Mateen's father believes the attack was motivated by his son's homophobia rather than his religion.
"We stand with the people of Orlando," President Obama said at a press conference in the White House on Sunday afternoon. "As a country we will be there with the people of Orlando today, tomorrow and for all the days to come."
The Washington Post, National Public Radio and other sources have dubbed the incident "the deadliest mass shooting in American history."
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Riots of June 1969 that are often cited as a pivotal point in the queer rights movement.
"The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance, to sing and to live," Obama added.
Meanwhile, citizens have responded with action. Food banks have been accepting water bottles and food all day at drop-off locations near blood donation centers. OneBlood has called upon people to schedule appointments to donate blood after being at capacity all afternoon.
President John C. Hitt of the University of Central Florida sent an e-mail blast to all students announcing that the university will be extending all of its resources to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's disposal, who called for a state of emergency along with Florida Governor Rick Scott.
"I tell our LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and alumni this: You are not alone. Your university stands with you," Hitt said.
Big Red Bus will be holding a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at the Student Union on campus.
Orlando Police took to Twitter to ask people to hold off on vigils, as they "represent a strain on our limited resources."
KnightNews.com has confirmed that victims Juan Guerrero and Christopher Leinonen were UCF students.
The debate over gun violence has resurfaced, with House Democrats on Monday shouting "no leadership" after Republican and House Speaker Paul Ryan silenced a South Carolina congressman for trying to ask about gun control legislation.
The National Rifle Association, a second amendment advocacy organization and the largest lobbying group in D.C., broke its 36-hour silence on the matter by posting a tweet to its opinion piece on USA Today slamming President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Those attempting to locate family members who may have been victims in the shooting should call the Orlando Police hotline at 407-246-4357. According to Watermark, Orlando's LGBTQ publication, the First Unitarian Church of Orlando at 1901 E Robinson St. is providing counseling services and Zebra Coalition is operating a support hotline at 407-228-1446.
OneBlood can be reached at 1-866-9DO-NATE for appointments. According to the Orlando Sentinel, they still need types O negative, O positive and AB plasma. Despite the nature of the shooting, the controversial FDA blood ban against non-celibate gay men remains in full effect.
Equality Florida held a vigil where thousands held candles at 7 p.m. Monday in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts lawn.
"I’m so proud of how our city has come together to support the families and the friends of the victims, those deceased and those that are still recovering in the hospital," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Monday night that President Obama will visit Orlando on Thursday to "pay his respects to the victim's families, and to stand in solidarity with the community."
The Social Justice and Advocacy Office at UCF will be holding another vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memory Mall on campus.
Stay tuned to NSM Today for further updates.
Story originally published on June 12, 2016.