Photos: Orlando nightclub mass shooting

The worst mass shooting in US history

Paul Cox, right, cries while embracing Kevin Esch during a vigil for a fatal shooting at an Orlando nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Authorities were investigating the attack on the Florida dance hall as an act of terrorism. 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.

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

Mayor Buddy Dyer said all of the dead were killed with the assault rifle.

“There’s blood everywhere,” Dyer said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene when the gunfire began shortly before the club known as Pulse was to close.

“Some guy walked in and started shooting everybody. He had an automatic rifle, so nobody stood a chance,” said Jackie Smith, who had two friends next to her get shot. “I just tried to get out of there.”

The suspect exchanged gunfire with a police officer working at the club, which had more than 300 people inside. The gunman then went back inside and took hostages, Police Chief John Mina said.

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