Police cars surround the Pulse bar in Orlando, Fla., after Sunday’s early morning attack. (Orlando Police / Twitter)

8:21 p.m. PDT: The Los Angeles Times reported that the Orlando police force is under scrutiny for the length of time it took to overpower the shooter on Sunday morning:

At 2:02 a.m. on a muggy night in central Florida, a gunman traded shots with an off-duty police officer, slipped into a nightclub with a rifle and killed at least 50 people in the most lethal mass shooting in U.S. history.

At 5:05 a.m., a tactical unit stormed the club and the shooter was killed. The intervening three hours required responding officers to choose a strategy: Do they charge in on a barricaded suspect, risking hostage lives? Or do they negotiate with a mass shooter, hoping to save those still inside?

… Now, the Orlando, Fla., Police Department is facing questions about the length of time it took to end a shooting at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning. Police said they treated the incident as a hostage situation for two hours before a police tactical unit arrived.

And in New York City Sunday night, performers at the Tony Awards paid tribute to the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting.

With that, we’re wrapping up our live blog coverage; this is clearly an ongoing story that will continue to be covered on our site as more news unfolds.

5:55 p.m. PDT: Green Party reactions to Sunday’s shooting,consolidated and linked:

5:17 p.m. PDT: Mateen’s ex-wife held a press conference Sunday evening in Boulder, Colorado with her new fiancé, expounding upon her previous comments about her troubled former marriage and expressing solidarity with the Orlando shooting victims and their loved ones.

4:53 p.m. PDT: Vigils may have been temporarily put on hold in Orlando, but they were happening around the country on Sunday evening. Here’s footage from one that took place in downtown Manhattan:

4:29 p.m. PDT: Seven out of the 50 people who died in Sunday’s Pulse massacre have been identified. Meanwhile, the city of Orlando is calling for local mourners to wait to hold vigils in the immediate aftermath of the shooting:

… and Donald Trump is calling on President Obama to resign (via The Hill):

“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday afternoon that officials were still looking into motives in the case of the suspect arrested in Santa Monica early that morning. The man, James Wesley Howell, 20, was from Indiana and said, according to Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks’ Twitter account, he intended “to harm” an L.A.-area “Gay Pride event.”

3:47 p.m. PDT: Hillary Clinton’s campaign has put on hold a joint appearance scheduled for Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin featuring the Democratic presidential candidate and President Obama, which was to be the first campaign event at which they would present a unified front.

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, still planned to go ahead with his June 13 rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. He’ll be switching his focus from Bill and Hillary Clinton’s track record to address national security, terrorism and immigration.

3:42 p.m. PDT: Donald Trump again claimed he “called it” (via Twitter):

1:55 p.m. PDT: LGBT activists closely followed the coverage of and response to the Orlando shooting, pointing out how the massacre constituted a homophobic hate crime and calling out several prominent politicians for overlooking that aspect of the story, for reinforcing homophobia in their responses, and for suddenly presenting themselves as sympathetic supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, in stark contradiction to prior evidence.

First, LGBT activist, author and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage tweeted out three forceful retorts to an apparent invitation from a major news outlet to him to help concerned parents cope with the prospect of their young children viewing public displays of affection between gay men. Based on the content and timing of Savage’s statements, the invitation likely related to coverage of Sunday’s shooting at the Pulse bar in Orlando, as well as to the shooter’s possible motives:

Next comes an article published on Americablog.com that names several right-wing politicians as “homophobes” and compares their comments in the wake of Sunday’s shooting with actions and statements they’d made previously. The headline of the article, “GOP homophobes suddenly concerned about gays, now that 50 are dead in Florida,” gives a clear indication of where the story is going:

Below are a series of tweets from GOP homophobes who are suddenly concerned about us, now that we’re dead.

Huckabee and Cruz, for example, attended a rally hosted by a pastor who has called for gays to be put to death:

… Mike Huckabee, homophobe:

Donald Trump, Pete Sessions, Marsha Blackburn and Pat Roberts were included in Americablog’s list of “homophobes.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday sparked a humanitarian and public relations crisis by tweeting, and then deleting, a Bible quote that some suspected meant he believed the victims of the bar shooting were to blame because they were part of the LGBT community. The verse from Galatians 6:7 reads, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

The Houston Chronicle later reported that Patrick claimed he was not referring to Sunday’s events in his tweet:

“Lt. Governor Patrick and every Texas is stunned and saddened by the outrageous act of domestic terrorism that has occurred in Orlando,” Blakemore said. “… Regarding this morning’s scripture posting on social media, be assured that the post was not done in response to last night’s tragedy. The post was designed and scheduled last Thursday.”

A Bible verse is tweeted from Patrick’s account every Sunday at 7 a.m.

Another verse was tweeted from the account 30 minutes later, this time from Psalm 37:39, which reads, “The Salvation of the righteous come from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble.”

We’ll close out this update with a tweet from an Arab-American queer Muslim:

1:16 p.m. PDT: Here’s a link to vigils taking place around the country Sunday, including one at New York City’s Stonewall Park in the West Village at 6 p.m. EDT (via Americablog):

1:13 p.m. PDT: The Orlando Police started to release victims’ names online:

1:10 p.m. PDT: More news from the right side of the political aisle: The Daily Caller took issue with President Obama’s framing of the Pulse bar attack, noting that the White House, unlike “all the major news outlets,” did not characterize the shooting as an act of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Georgia Rep. Steven Smith took to Twitter, where the meaning of the shooting was being publicly contested by many legislators and commentators, to decry the president’s position:

When an LGBT group contacted Smith on Twitter, requesting that he show solidarity with their community, Smith stopped short:

Sunday’s shooting presents a challenge for some conservatives who have voted or rallied against pro-LGBT causes, as it invites them to recognize their shared humanity with the victims of the Pulse massacre, even though they may not support the community’s political and social campaigns.

Meanwhile, former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio spoke to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday afternoon and advocated for the use of a specific narrative in discussions about the morning’s events.

“This is not some confused, deranged individual,” Rubio declared. “This is a terrorist.”

Rubio touched upon a theme similar to one Florida Gov. Rick Scott introduced at a press conference earlier in the day. “This could have been in any city in America,” Rubio said. The Florida senator added that he feared it won’t be an isolated incident and that America is facing a “significant homegrown violent extremist threat.”

12:45 p.m. PDT: The city of Orlando has announced on Twitter that the names of victims that can be released will be made public online:

ABC News tweeted video footage of FBI agent Ronald Hopper’s comments about the agency’s investigation of Mateen:

12:36 p.m. PDT: The Washington Post’s Adam Goldman and Julie Tate interviewed Mateen’s ex-wife, who said she met the alleged shooter online about eight years ago before relocating to Fort Pierce, Fla., and marrying him. She told the Post that he later became abusive:

“He was not a stable person,” said the ex-wife, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety in the wake of the mass shooting. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

… “He seemed like a normal human being,” she said, adding that he wasn’t very religious and worked out at the gym often. She said in the few months they were married he gave no signs of having fallen under the sway of radical Islam. She said he owned a small-caliber handgun and worked as a guard at a nearby facility for juvenile delinquents.

… The ex-wife said her parents intervened when they learned Mateen had assaulted her. Her father confirmed the account and said that the marriage lasted only a few months.

Her parents flew down to Fort Pierce and pulled her out of the house, leaving all her belongings behind. The ex-wife she said never had contact with Mateen again despite attempts by him to reach her.

“They literally saved my life,” she said of her parents.

Mateen and his ex-wife divorced in 2011.

12:27 p.m. PDT: Addressing reporters in Orlando with local and state officials was FBI agent Ronald Hopper, who confirmed that Mateen had previously been on the agency’s radar and had been able to obtain a gun permit. When a reporter asked, “How did this guy get a gun permit?” Hopper responded that Mateen “was not under current investigation at the time of this incident and was not under surveillance.”

Mateen had been under federal investigation for making comments suggesting support for Islamist extremists and had contacted Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, the first American suicide bomber to die in Syria. Abu-Salha was the son of a Palestinian father and an Italian-American mother and grew up in Vero Beach, Fla., before aligning himself with al-Qaida, as CNN reported in 2014.

Hopper reiterated that the “investigation [of Mateen] was closed” by the time he purchased the firearms he used in Sunday’s shooting. As for the comments Mateen made during his 911 call, Hopper deferred to protocol: “That has become federal evidence,” he said.

12:13 p.m. PDT: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke, surrounded by police and government officials and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We will not be defined by a hateful shooter … We will be defined by how we love and support each other,” he said.

Gov. Rick Scott called for a moment of silence at 6 p.m. to mourn loss of life and pray for those who are still fighting. He signaled his support for law enforcement before affirming, “This state is going to be defined as a state of generosity, a state of love.”

12:04 p.m. PDT: The Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency tweeted that the Orlando shooting was “carried out by an Islamic State fighter.” Whether the militant group was actively involved in planning the attack or in communication with Mateen is still unclear.

11:52 a.m. PDT: Orlando Regional Medical Center, the downtown hospital that became the destination for many Pulse bar shooting victims, addressed the media Sunday to dispel rumors that gunman Mateen had breached security and that the hospital was shuttered following the attack (via local news station WESH 2 News):

11:46 a.m. PDT: Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump weighed in via his favorite social media platform, taking the opportunity to claim credit for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism”:

Trump also aimed criticism and a directive at Obama in a subsequent tweet:

11:24 a.m. PDT: A suspect was arrested early Sunday morning in Santa Monica, Calif., after authorities found an “arsenal” in his car that reportedly included assault weapons, explosive powder and a camouflage outfit, according to CNN affiliate KABC. He told officers who apprehended him that he was in town for gay pride festivities in West Hollywood.

Here’s more from the Los Angeles Times:

Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call of a suspected prowler near Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street. Patrol officers responded and encountered an individual who told officers he was waiting for a friend. That led officers to inspect the car and find several weapons and a lot of ammunition as well as tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb.

The car had Indiana plates. The man, was was arrested, made comments that he was in town for the Pride event in West Hollywood this weekend. The source said they believed there was no connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning and the Santa Monica incident. The investigation has been taken over by the FBI. The source said the man appeared to be white.

Authorities said the arrest occurred at 5 a.m. The suspect told authorities he was looking for a friend at the festival, said acting L.A. County Undersheriff Neal Tyler. The suspect is being questioned and authorities were trying to find the person he said he was looking for, he said.

Santa Monica Police spokesman Saul Rodriguez confirmed that the suspect was from Indiana and that weapons were found in the car, but added that police “were not aware of what the suspect’s intentions were at this point.”

11:01 a.m. PDT: “We stand with the people of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city,” Obama said in televised comments about the Orlando shooting. “This was an act of terror and an act of hate.”

The president also praised emergency responders for their speed and effectiveness on the scene.

“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends fellow Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexuial or transgender,” Obama added. “The place they attacked is more than a nightclub—it is a place of solidarity and empowerment.”

In a bid to emphasize national identity and unity, Obama said, “No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or what makes us Americans.”

He also took a moment to touch upon the divisive issue of gun control, calling the massacre a reminder of how easy it is for people to get their hands on heavy-duty firearms, before ending on a hopeful note. “In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” he said.

10:58 a.m. PDT: As President Obama prepared to address the nation, media reports suggest the shooting at the Pulse bar could have claimed even more lives, as around 350 to 400 people were packed into the venue at the time.

10:29 a.m. PDT: CNN reported that Mateen called 911 and claimed allegiance to Islamic State, and he also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Mateen had been known to local authorities.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had this response (via CNN):

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called it “horrific” and “unthinkable” and said it underscores the need for gun control measures.

“Oh, it’s horrific, it’s unthinkable. And just hopes go out to all those who were shot that they can recover,” the Democratic presidential contender said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“And I’ve got to tell you, 25 years ago, I believe that in this country, we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people,” Sanders said. “We have got to do everything that we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them, criminals, people who are mentally ill. So that struggles continues.”

Here’s Hillary Clinton’s tweeted response:

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

9:49 a.m. PDT: The gunman who attacked the Pulse bar in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen. Meanwhile, the mounting death toll has broken the horrific record as the worst mass shooting in American history to date.

From The New York Times:

A gunman killed 50 people and wounded 53 in a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, officials said, in the worst mass shooting slaughter in American history, and law enforcement officials called it an act of terrorism.

The gunman was Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, an American citizen living in Port St. Lucie, Fla., federal law enforcement officials said.

The killer stormed the Pulse nightclub armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a handgun at about 2 a.m., while more than 300 people were inside dancing and drinking, said John Mina, the Orlando police chief. After the gunman began mowing down patrons, hundreds of others, some of them bleeding, fled down the darkened streets of the surrounding neighborhood.

The gunman holed up inside with dozens of people effectively held hostage, some of them hiding in a restroom frantically calling for help, until about 5 a.m., when a police SWAT team, using an armored vehicle and stun grenades, raided the building and killed him.

In that assault, an officer was wounded, his life saved by a Kevlar helmet that deflected a bullet, and at least 30 people were rescued, Chief Mina said. Some survivors escaped under cover of what the police called two “discretionary explosions.”.

Read more here.

5:43 a.m. PDT: Orlando police are reporting that the attack on the Pulse bar that occurred around 2 a.m. EDT has left at least 20 dead, though they’ve been reluctant to relay a precise death toll. Authorities are calling the mass shooting an “act of domestic terrorism.” Police also tweeted a couple of hours after the shooting that the gunman inside the club had been killed.

A suspected terrorist shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando has left at least 20 people dead, police have confirmed, adding that the attacker had been killed following a hostage situation at the club.

Shots were fired at the Pulse Club, in the early hours of Sunday. Staff at the venue posted on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running” and there were quickly reports on social media of an ongoing attack. Police … added that 42 people had been taken to hospital, including one police officer who had been shot in the head, but whose “life had been saved by his Kevlar helmet”. They confirmed the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, handgun and “some kind of device”.

In a press conference on Sunday morning, an FBI spokesman said investigators believed the attacker may have had extremist beliefs, and would consider possible links to Isis, but cautioned they were pursuing multiple leads.

2:08 a.m. PDT: More than one shooter entered the Pulse bar in the early hours of the morning, and at least one of the gunmen is reported to be barricading himself inside the Florida venue as police surround the building.

From The Guardian:

A number of people have been shot in an attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police have confirmed, with local reports claiming at least one gunman had barricaded themselves in the building with hostages.

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.

Read more here.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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