Armored vehicle used to punch hole into Orlando club: police

Armored vehicle used to punch hole into Orlando club: police

Armored vehicle used to punch hole into Orlando club: police

An armored vehicle was used to punch a huge hole into the wall of the Orlando gay club to rescue dozens of people trapped inside during live shooting which left at least 50 dead, police said today.

Radicalised lone gunman identified as Afghan-origin Omar Mateen came out of the same hole to engage in a gun battle with the police. He was eventually killed, police said, a day after the deadliest mass shooting in the US history.

"We used our armored vehicle - the Bearcat armored vehicle - to punch a hole in that wall and defeat the wall. So there's a hole in the wall about two feet off the ground and about two or three feet wide. We were able to rescue dozens and dozens of people that came out of that hole," Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters.

"The suspect came out of that hole, himself, armed with a handgun and long gun, engaged in a gun battle with officers where he was ultimately killed," Mina said. He said the first shots were fired at about 2 am (local time) at the popular gay club in Orlando.

"At about 2:00 he responded to shots fired. He did engage in a gun battle with the suspect somewhere near one of the entrances. Shortly after that additional officers responded," Mina said.

A team of police officers made entry into the Club while the suspect was shooting, engaged in another gun battle with the suspect, forced him to stop shooting and retreat to the bathroom, where he is believed to have had several hostages.

"At that time we were able to save and rescue dozens and dozens of people who were injured and non-injured and get them out of the club. Things kind of stabilised," Mina said.

"Based on statements made by the suspect about explosives, about possible bomb vests, we kind of secured everything, called SWAT and we did set up for an explosive breach on the bathroom wall where we knew there were approximately 15 people in the opposing bathroom to where the suspect was with his hostages," Mina said.

"Based on information we received from the suspect and from the hostages and people inside, we believe that further loss of life was imminent. I made the decision to commence the rescue operation and do the explosive breach. The explosive breach did not penetrate the wall completely," he said.

The Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer said 48 of the victims have been identified so far. "Now 48 of the 49 victims have been identified. Twenty- four of the next of kin have been notified, with more to come," he said.

Regina Lombardo, Special Agent in Charge of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force said two weapons were found on the scene.

"We have been able to trace those weapons. The weapons have been traced to the last known purchasers, which is the shooter. A third weapon was also found in his vehicle. We are still working on tracing that weapon, as well," he said.

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