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Jillian Amador hugs a friend at Orlando Police Department headquarters after a shooting at Pulse nightclub early Sunday, 12 June 2016 in Orlando. (Photo: Naseem Miller/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

In Pictures: When a Popular Gay Nightclub in Orlando Turned Deadly

How the heart-wrenching Orlando shooting unfolded.

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3 min read

It had been an evening of drinking, dancing and drag shows. After hours of revelry, the party-goers crowding the gay nightclub known as Pulse took their last sips before the place closed.

That’s when authorities say Omar Mateen emerged, carrying an AR-15 and spraying the helpless crowd with bullets. Witnesses said he fired relentlessly – 20 rounds, 40, then 50 and more. In such tight quarters, the bullets could hardly miss. He shot at police. He took hostages.

Authorities immediately began investigating whether the assault was an act of terrorism and probing the background of Mateen, a 29-year-old American citizen from Fort Pierce, Florida, who had worked as a security guard.

When the gunfire finally stopped, 50 people were dead and dozens critically wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Mateen, who authorities said had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a 911 call shortly before the attack, died in a battle with SWAT team members.

The gunman’s father recalled that his son recently got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami and said that might be related to the assault.

Mateen’s ex-wife said his family was from Afghanistan but that her ex-husband was born in New York. His family later moved to Florida.

At least 53 people were hospitalised, most in critical condition, officials said. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.

“There’s blood everywhere,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

(With inputs from AP)

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