UPDATE: ISLAMIC TERRORISM May Be Behind Gay Nightclub Massacre

pulse nightclub

The signs are now pointing to Islamic terrorism as the motive behind the slaughter at a gay Orlando nightclub Saturday night.

As many as 20 people were killed and 42 wounded in the rampage that left the gunman dead in a firefight with police. Authorities are now saying the suspect may have had ties to radical Islam.

“We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings toward that particular ideology,” FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Ron Hopper said, Fox News is reporting. “But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything to ground.”

During a press conference Sunday morning, state police spokesman Danny Banks said they were officially classifying the nightclub shooting as an “act of terrorism,” WFTV is reporting.

Police officers were called to the Pulse Orlando – a popular gay nightclub – at around 2 a.m. Sunday morning after reports of a shooting.

Officers were engaged in a gun battle outside the club before the gunman went back inside the building and more shots were fired. The gunman then took hostages.

There hours later, officials made the decision to rescue the hostages in the club. SWAT teams then exchanged fire with the gunman and killed him. He was found with “some kind of assault rifle” along with a handgun and another “device” on him. Law enforcement stopped short of saying the “device” was a bomb.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the gunman planned extensively for the attack.

“It’s appears he was organized and well-prepared,” the chief said, adding that the shooter had an assault-type weapon, a handgun and “some type of (other) device on him.”

Anthony Torres, who was at the club with friends, said he heard shots as he hurriedly drove off.

“The shots did not sound like a regular handgun, it sounded like it was shooting repetitively and it wouldn’t stop,” he said.

“So we knew what it was and we left there pretty quick. It was over 70 cop cars that were arriving there … It happened so quick that people got separated from each other.”