A number of people have been shot in an attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police have confirmed, adding that a controlled explosion had been carried out at the venue.
Shots were fired at the Pulse Club, an LGBT nightclub in the city, in the early hours of Sunday. Staff at the venue posted on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running”.
Orlando police said the shooting had resulted in “multiple injuries” and urged people to stay away from the area. Local unconfirmed reports suggested as many as 20 people could have been injured in the attack, and video footage shared on social media showed a high police presence around the club.
Authorities said a controlled explosion had taken place inside the club, undertaken by law enforcement operatives, and urged media to avoid reporting inaccuracies.
The Orlando fire department bomb squad and hazardous materials team were in attendance at the scene, reported Associated Press. There were reports early on Sunday morning that the gunman was still be inside the building with an explosive device.
One man who claimed he was inside the club said people were “screaming that people are dead”. “They are just pulling people out in stretchers loading them up,” he said. “Please god let everyone make it – tonight was supposed to be a fun night!! One more minute and we would of been shot or worse.”
One witness told Sky News there were more than 100 people inside the venue for the club’s Latin night when the gunman entered the building and began firing into the ceiling and into the crowd.
Anthony Torres added that he was outside the club when the shooting began and confirmed that he thought more than one person was involved in the attack. He believed the shooting lasted between 15 and 20 minutes.
Richard Negroni said: “We just heard shots, it was less than a minute, it felt longer. There was a brief pause and we just ran. Everybody was just faces to the floor. I had someone over me, I really didn’t see [how many gunmen there were]. All I can tell you was the club was packed, there were over 100 people there, if the gunman came in through the front door people were injured or worse.”
In a Facebook post, Negroni wrote that the shooter opened fire at about 2am and “people on the dance floor and bar got down on the floor”. He said some people near the bar and back exit managed to escape quickly.
Local news organisation Wesh reported that a number of ambulances had been taken to the nearby hospital and people with injuries were being removed from the club. It was unclear if the situation inside the club was resolved and family members were still waiting to hear about the safety of their family members.
The attack comes just days after the fatal shooting of Voice contestant Christina Grimmie in Orlando, while she was signing autographs for fans after a show.
Kevin James Loibl has been named by police as the shooter in that incident and said the 26-year-old travelled to Orlando from his home in St Petersburg, Florida, about two hours’ drive away, with the intention of carrying out the crime. There is no known connection between Grimmie and Loibl.