Kenya Michaels, a drag queen from Puerto Rico, was scheduled to appear at Pulse on Saturday evening along with another entertainer called Jasmine International, according to Michaels' Facebook page, which displayed a flyer for the show. Yara Sofia, another Puerto Rican drag queen and reality television personality, said Michaels was safe.
"She got out with manager Neema," Sofia said on Facebook.
Angelica Jones of Orlando, Pulse's resident entertainer, also posted a message on Facebook early Sunday: "God's good. I made it out safe. Thank you for your prayers."
Orlando recently wrapped up its annual weeklong Gay Days festival on June 6 in which up to 150,000 in the LGBT community attend area theme parks, gay nightclubs and special events. It was the 25th anniversary of Gay Days. It is one of the largest gay pride events in the world.
What we know so far
A shooting at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando has killed about 20 people and sent 42 to the hospital, after Florida police and Swat teams ended a hostage situation with a gunman, killing him, in the early hours of of Sunday morning.
At a morning press conference the FBI described the shooting as an act of terrorism, saying: “Whether that’s a domestic terrorist activity or international, it’s terrorism.”
The press conference also gave details how the shooting began, the raid, and what few details police know so far about the gunman.
At approximately 2am on Sunday, an officer working at Pulse Club responded to shots fires and engaged in a gun battle with the suspect. The suspect at some point entered the night club and a hostage situation began.
Dozens of officers and federal agents responded to the shooting from around the area, and police began receiving phone calls from inside the club: calls from bathrooms and at least 15 people “in the area”, police chief John Mina said.
At approximately 5am police decided to rescue the hostages, setting off two “distractionary devices” and blowing apart a wall so a Swat team could storm the club. The suspect was killed in the ensuing gunfight. There were “at least 30 people that were saved during that rescue”, Mina said.
Police found an “assault-type rifle”, a handgun and “some kind of device” on the suspect’s body, and are working to clear the night club of any suspicious items. Bodies remain inside. Mina said there were “no witness accounts of a second shooter”.
About 20 people were killed, Mina said, and 42 taken to three area hospitals. One police officer sustained a minor injury.
It appears he was organized and well prepared,” Mina said of the suspect. “He’s not from this area.” Mina used the same phrasing to say that the gunman who killed singer Christina Grimmie on Friday night in Orlando was not from central Florida. He said the shootings do not appear related.
Orlando sheriff Jerry Demings called the shooting “a domestic terror incident”, and the FBI said they were investigating whether the suspect acted as “a lone wolf” or had any ties to terror groups abroad. Asked about a link to jihadi terrorism, an FBI agent said: “At this time we’re looking into all angles. We do have suggestions that that individual may have had leanings toward that, that particular ideology. But right now we can’t say anything definitively.”
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