Orlando massacre updates: ‘The guilt of being alive is heavy,” victim says

  • The American and gay pride flags fly at half-mast over the LGBT Community Center of Central Florida, Monday, June 13, 2016. The Center is a gay-rights support group in Orlando, located about 4 miles from the Pulse nightclub where the massacre occurred on Sunday. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT Joe Burbank

  • Family members of victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting hug outside a family reunification center set up at the Beardall Senior Center, Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) Alan Diaz

  • Family members of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting walk out of the Orlando Medical Examiner's Office, Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) Alan Diaz

  • Brett Crowe, right, sits with friend Myron McCullough, down the street from the scene of the fatal shooting at a nightclub Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Crowe was supposed to go the club the night of the shooting but decided in the last minute he didn't want to drive. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

  • Orlando, Fla., Mayor Buddy Dyer reads details of the fatal shootings at Pulse Orlando nightclub during a media briefing Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Looking on is Florida Gov. Rick Scott at right. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • In this photo made from video, Seddique Mir Mateen speaks to reporters about his son Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Muslim, the killer, who died in a gun battle early Sunday with a SWAT team, Monday, June 13, 2016, at his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The last of the bodies were removed from an Orlando gay nightclub overnight as investigators dug into the background of the gunman, who called 911 to profess allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack that left 49 victims dead. (AP Photo/APTN)

  • Orlando Police Chief John Mina describes the details of the fatal shootings at the Pulse Orlando nightclub during a media briefing Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • People embrace at a vigil in Seattle for the victims of a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Genna Martin/seattlepi.com via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT Genna Martin

  • Aidan Wood, left, her mother, Lisa Laughman and Karen Pace console each other at a vigil for the mass shootings in Orlando, Fla., in Lansing, Mich., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Robert Killips/Lansing State Journal via AP) Robert Killips

  • Family members, center, of victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting are escorted out by volunteers as they leave a family reunification center set up at the Beardall Senior Center, Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • Josh Mercer wears a T-shirt Monday, June 13, 2016, in honor of two of his friends who were killed during a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • President Barack Obama pauses while speaking to members of the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2016, after getting briefed on the investigation of a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and other officials. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais

  • Krystle Martin cries as she speaks to the media near a makeshift memorial for the fatal shootings at Pulse Orlando nightclub, Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Law enforcement officials confer near the Pulse Orlando nightclub before sunrise Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Pulse Orlando was the scene of a mass fatal shooting early Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Greg Larsen writes a message on a banner Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla., to one of his friends killed during a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott reacts as he listens to the details of the fatal shootings at Pulse Orlando nightclub during a media briefing Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) Chris O'Meara

  • Several hundred supporters, led by Laura Kanter, at right, marched to Sasscer Park after a vigil at Calle Cuatro Plaza in support of the Orlando shooting victims Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Santa Ana, Calif. (Kevin Sullivan/The Orange County Register via AP) Kevin Sullivan

  • Don Haller, left, and Frank Thompson of Laguna Niguel pray for the victims of Orlando nightclub shooting at Main Street Bar in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Kyusung Gong/The Orange County Register via AP) Kyusung Gong

  • This undated image shows Omar Mateen, who authorities say killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, June 12, 2016. The gunman opened fire inside the crowded gay nightclub before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (MySpace via AP)

  • Angel Colon, a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting, is comforted by family members as he listens to doctors describe what went on in the emergency room that night at a news conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • for the fatal shooting victims at the Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) Phelan M. Ebenhack

  • Megan Noblet, far right, a nurse at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, tells about treating Angle Colon, left front, a shooting victim of the Pulse nightclub shootings, after he arrived at the hospital, during a news conference, Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. The Pulse nightclub shootings where many people were injured or killed is the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. History.(AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

Published: 6/14/2016 11:26:36 AM

The Latest on the Florida nightclub shooting:

2:05 p.m.: An official says 23 of the 49 victims killed in the massacre at a gay Florida nightclub shooting are Puerto Ricans.

Puerto Rico’s justice secretary, Cesar Miranda, hasn’t specified how many were born in the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rican parents and how many had moved there from the island.

He issued a statement decrying “all the social problems that led to this massacre: intolerance about gender preferences, discrimination against Latin Americans in the United States and broad access to weapons in that country.”

On Monday, Mexico’s president said three people killed were citizens of his country.

The tragedy hit the gay and Hispanic communities especially hard. Sunday was Latino Night at the Pulse nightclub.

1:45 p.m.: One of the survivors of the nightclub shooting says she went from having the time of her life with her friends to the worst night of her life in a matter of minutes.

Patience Carter, 20, talked about the night from Florida Hospital Orlando, where she is recovering from a gunshot wound. Carter said she was with a group of friends at the Pulse nightclub when she heard the gunshots early Sunday.

Carter says one of her friends was killed and another was also shot and has more severe injuries. She described hearing the gunman’s calls to 911 in which he said he was shooting because he wanted America to stop bombing his country. She said he spoke in Arabic and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.

The gunman was born in New York and his parents were born in Afghanistan.

She also described a person that she didn’t know shielding her from being hit as the hostage situation came to a close and the gunman was killed by police.

Before speaking, Carter read a poem that ended with the words: “The guilt of being alive is heavy.”

1:30 p.m.: A survivor who hid in the handicapped stall as a gunman attacked a gay Florida nightclub says he had to drag himself out to safety and is just grateful to be alive.

From a bed Tuesday at the hospital that treated him, Angel Santiago Jr. described to reporters how he survived the massacre. He said he got to club Pulse in Orlando about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. About 2 a.m., as the last drinks were served, he and the two friends he was with heard gunshots.

They made their way to the bathroom area and hid in the large stall. Santiago said about 15 people total were in there. He was shot in the left foot and right knee. The group tried to be quiet. He eventually dragged himself, unable to walk, out of the bathroom and toward police. He used his cell phone light to indicate his presence to officers, who soon grabbed him and got him outside.

He said he could see the bullet hole on one of his friends, who also is recovering. He says he never saw the shooter or heard him speak.

He says: “I don’t even know how I’m alive today.”

1 p.m.: A Tennessee lawmaker said his office has received threats for planning to give away the same type of semi-automatic rifle used by a gunman in the massacre of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub.

Republican state Rep. Andy Holt, a staunch gun rights supporter, had offered the AR-15 as a door prize at a fundraiser before the shootings took place. Following heavy criticism in the aftermath of the attacks, he said he would give away a second gun.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini on Monday said that the winner of the raffle could be “the next mass shooter.”

Holt said his office was contacted repeatedly by an anonymous caller who said he was armed and threatened to pay the legislative office a visit on Tuesday.

12:40 p.m.: A man who knew the Orlando nightclub shooter as a teenager says the student infuriated his peers by joking about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Robert Zirkle said he and Omar Marteen lived in Stuart, Fla., and rode the same bus, though they attended different schools.

Zirkle said he and his friends were generally on good terms with Mateen until 9/11. Zirkle said Mateen made airplane and explosion sounds and appeared to be joking about the attacks.

Zirkle said, “My group of friends told him it wasn’t a joke, and if he didn’t knock it off he was going to have problems.”

Zirkle is now 29 and lives in Johnson City, Tenn. He said he would see Mateen when both teens worked at the mall but didn’t have much contact after those jobs.

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Chick-fil-A employees in Orlando, Fla., were serving food this past Sunday after the massacre at a gay night club, even though the chain is normally closed on Sundays in a nod to the religious beliefs of its founder.

The Facebook page for a local Chick-fil-A says a few employees from at least one Orlando location made food for people waiting in line to donate blood after the massacre that left 49 dead and dozens more injured. Another location noted that it simply responded just like numerous other Orlando businesses and residents.

Chick-fil-A touched off protests by gay rights advocates in 2012 after its CEO Dan Cathy voiced support for “biblical families” and opposition to same-sex marriages. As it seeks to expand its national footprint, the company has tried to draw a distinction between its business and the beliefs of its ownership.

12:25 p.m.: A law enforcement official says investigators who have spoken with the Orlando gunman’s wife are looking into whether the two of them were recently at or outside the nightclub he attacked.

The official is familiar with the investigation, but was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said investigators had been told that Mateen and his wife had been at the Pulse nightclub on a prior occasion and were trying to confirm the accuracy of that statement.

The official said the FBI has Mateen’s phone and will try to use data from it to see if he had visited the club before.

The official said investigators have not ruled out charging anyone who may have had advance knowledge of the attack.

12 p.m.: The father of the gunman who attacked a gay Orlando nightclub says his son was not gay.

A U.S. official briefed on the case said Tuesday that the FBI is investigating reports that Omar Mateen had been a regular at the nightclub and had used gay dating apps. Investigators are looking into possible motives for the attack and have said Mateen appears to be a “homegrown extremist” who touted support not just for the Islamic State, but other radical groups that are its enemies.

Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, said he never saw his son exhibit homophobic behavior except for one time in Miami when he saw two men kissing. The father answered questions from reporters on Tuesday at his home in Port Saint Lucie.

He added that his son’s second wife, Noor Zahi Salman, returned to their apartment late Monday because she “needed clothes to wear.” He said she is in shock, adding that she and his grandson are in Florida, but he didn’t say where.

Asked about reports that his son celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he said that there may have been an incident at school, but he didn’t want to discuss it in detail.

11:40 a.m.: The owner of the Orlando nightclub where dozens of people were massacred says her club will be rebuilt as a tribute and will honor those who were killed, wounded or left grieving.

Barbara Poma told the Today show’s Matt Lauer that she “will not let hate win” in the aftermath of the shootings.

Poma said she named the club Pulse in honor of her brother, who died from AIDS in 1991. The name was a way of keeping his heartbeat alive. She wanted Pulse to be “a safe place” for the gay community.

She said the club will be rebuilt as a tribute to the people who lost their lives, as well as the survivors and their relatives.

She also said she can’t stop imagining the terror felt by those inside the nightclub amid the killing.

11:40 a.m.: A city-owned cemetery is donating free plots to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Don Price is the sexton at Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando. He said Tuesday that the city is donating space to any of the victims’ families. The cemetery was founded in 1880.

He said two families are already interested and have set up appointments to meet with the cemetery Tuesday.

Price said the county’s medical examiner started releasing the first of the bodies Monday night.

11:35 a.m.: A doctor at the hospital treating nightclub shooting victims says that of the six patients who remain in the intensive care unit, one or two are still “profoundly ill.”

Dr. Michael Cheatham of Orlando Regional Medical Center said many of those patients are recovering from the mass shooting early Sunday.

But he added: “The big question is what their long-term outcome will be.”

He said he suspects they may survive but will likely have lasting impacts on their health and functionality.

11:25 a.m.: A survivor of the Florida nightclub massacre is giving an emotional thank-you to staff at the hospital that treated him and other victims, and he says the gunman had to be “heartless” and “ruthless.”

Angel Colon spoke alongside doctors Tuesday at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Nurse Megan Noblet told Colon that she think he was her second patient of the night as the flood of victims arrived. She described him as brave, and Colon told her and the other staff gathered, “I love you guys.”

Asked his thoughts on the shooter, Colon said, “This person had to be heartless. . . . This person is just enjoying doing this.”

Colon made remarks in both English and Spanish at the news conference. The tragedy hit the city’s gay and Hispanic communities especially hard. Sunday was Latino Night at the Pulse nightclub.

11:20 a.m.: A doctor who has been treating the wounded from the Orlando nightclub shooting says he would be surprised if the death toll doesn’t rise.

Dr. Michael Cheatham said at a news conference Tuesday that six people are still critically ill at the hospital. He says they are doing everything they can for them and he asked people to pray for them.

Forty-nine people were killed when a gunman attacked a gay nightclub on early Sunday. More than 50 people were wounded in the attack. The gunman died in a shootout with police.

11:15 a.m.: A doctor who treated nightclub shooting victims says the massacre was “the largest disaster that we probably could have imagined.”

Dr. Michael Cheatham of Orlando Regional Medical Center said hospital and trauma centers prepare for disasters, but “you can never prepare adequately.”

Doctors at a Tuesday news conference praised the work of staff at the hospital, where six people remain “critically ill.”

Cheatham described great support at the hospital, saying there was “never a time we were without anything we needed.” He also said the facility escalated from two operating rooms to six within 30 to 60 minutes to care for the flood of patients.

11 a.m.: Doctors at the Orlando hospital that treated nightclub massacre victims are describing a chaotic night of patient after patient arriving for trauma treatment.

At a news conference Tuesday at Orlando Regional Medical Center, doctors described “truckloads” and “ambulance-loads” of patients.

Dr. Kathryn Bondani said the first patient that arrived was relatively stable, and the staff hoped that others would be in a similar condition. But the doctors soon got about five patients in much worse shape.

Dr. Chadwick Smith choked up a bit talking about the night. He described calling in additional staff and telling them, “This is not a drill, this is not a joke.”

He says everyone answered “I’ll be right there,” and dozens of doctors and nurses showed up to help.

10:50 a.m.: A man who survived the nightclub shooting in Orlando says he thought “I’m next, I’m dead” as the gunman fired toward his head.

Angel Colon described the horrific night he survived during a news conference Tuesday at the hospital. Appearing in a wheelchair with the doctors and nurses who treated him nearby, Colon talked about what happened early Sunday at the Pulse nightclub.

He says the gunman shot a girl next to him and then shot his hand and his hip. He says he pretended to be dead and the gunman kept firing his gun.

Colon said at times the gunman was shooting people who appeared to already be dead.

He thanked the hospital staff and said “I will love you guys forever.”

10:40 a.m.: A doctor says six people wounded in the Orlando nightclub shooting are “critically ill” at the hospital and another five patients are in “guarded” condition.

Dr. Michael Cheatham of Orlando Regional Medical Center made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday.

Cheatham said 16 patients at the hospital are in stable condition.

The people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub early Sunday.

10:10 a.m.: Family photos, drawings, blackboard messages, a Quran and books on Islam decorate the apartment where the shooter in the Orlando gay nightclub massacre lived with his wife.

Univision News reported the details and said it visited the home in Fort Pierce, Fla., on Monday when it was unoccupied. Univision reports that it was the morning after the FBI swept the apartment for evidence and said the home was unlocked and not yet sealed off by crime-scene tape.

The report describes a blackboard message in the kitchen about an appointment at their 3-year-old son’s school and a note with an Arabic phrase praising God.

Univision said that on the living room table was a document listing items investigators removed: 9 mm cartridges, an iPad mini, a Samsung phone, a Dell computer, a CD labeled with Mateen’s name.

Mateen lived there with his second wife, Noor Salman.

10:05 a.m.: An official says the FBI is investigating reports that the Orlando massacre shooter had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and had used gay dating apps.

The U.S. official had been briefed on the investigation into 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday.

The comments follow reports and comments from patrons at the Orlando club Pulse that Mateen was a regular there and tried to pick up men. Previously, his Afghan-immigrant father had suggested Mateen may have acted out of anti-gay hatred and said his son got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.

9:30 a.m.: The ex-wife of the shooter at a gay Florida nightclub says the man enjoyed nightlife, but she’s not sure if he had any homosexual tendencies.

Sitora Yusufiy spoke to CNN on Tuesday from Denver.

She says: “When we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past . . . that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, and there was a lot of pictures of him. . . . I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn’t want everybody to know about.”

The comments follow reports from customers at the gay nightclub that shooter Omar Mateen was seen there regularly. One told the Associated Press that Mateen tried to pick up men there.

Asked whether she thinks her ex-husband was gay, Yusufiy said: “I don’t know. He never personally or physically made any indications while we were together of that. But he did feel very strongly about homosexuality.”

She says it’s possible he hid feelings about being gay.

The couple were married in 2009 and divorced two years later. She has said he was abusive.

9:30 a.m.: Three Democrats in Congress say it was “unacceptable” that gay and bisexual men weren’t able to donate blood after the shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub.

As hundreds rushed to blood banks after the shooting, rumors spread that no one would be turned away. However, the FDA bars blood donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley’s office issued a statement calling for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “lift this prejudicial ban.” Quigley is the vice-chairman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. California Rep. Barbara Lee and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin also signed the statement.

They say the Orlando shooting shows “how crucial it is for FDA to develop better blood donor policies that are based on science and on individual risk factors.”




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