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Maryland Officials Discuss Orlando Tragedy As Vigil Held

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A gunman opened fire on a crowd of people inside a gay night club. Fifty people are confirmed dead and 53 are injured. This senseless act of violence is the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

George Solis has reaction from Maryland officials.

It was unimaginable horror.


"Oh my God, they are all shooting back and forth," said one.

"There is no going back. You can't change the fact of what this guy did."

Raw reactions from those at the forefront of what's now being called not only the deadliest mass shooting in American history but also an act of terrorism.

"His friend got shot three times in the back, once in the leg, so we're here waiting to see how he's doing. His other friend Shane, they can't find him right now," said a relative.

The death toll is now at 50. At least 53 others wounded.

"We continue to operate on them. We have found many of them are critically ill as a result of their injuries," said a doctor.

Authorities now say 29-year-old Omar Mateen is responsible for opening fire at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse.

"It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking for me. It's very difficult for me. I have to wear a city commissioner hat but I'm also a member of this community," said a Florida city commissioner.

Law enforcement sources say Mateen called 911 before the attack and pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

Florida leaders, like the rest of the world, are waiting for answers.

Meanwhile, there's an outpouring of support nationwide, including right here in Maryland. The head of the Hippodrome Theater and co-founder of the club took to Facebook asking for prayers, as he is "devastated and heartbroken."

Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger---who also serves on the defense appropriations subcommittee---told WJZ aside from looking at whether this was the act of a lone wolf or is part of a larger conspiracy, the next step is to revisit the issue of gun control: specifically the AR-15, which police say was used in the massacre.

"It's not a political issue, Republican Democrat issue. We have got to find a way to identify who has these weapons, these AR-15s, where they are and are they getting into the hands of bad guys or people who are mentally damaged," he said.

There's been an outpouring of support for the victims and their families from all over the country, including here in Maryland.

The Memorial Episcopal Church held a prayer vigil Sunday following the tragedy. It was a chance for anyone feeling the emotional impact to find comfort among friends.

The Baltimore community filled the pews of the church. Many of them were distraught by the violence in Orlando. It was a community of all beliefs and sexual orientations came together to pay their respects to all the victims of the shooting.

"An event of this magnitude with this many people dead, this many hurt people...people often need a place to just go and grieve, to talk and have companionship," said Memorial Episcopal Church Rev. Grey Maggiano.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis was in the crowd Sunday. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also shared her thoughts, issuing a statement sending her thoughts and prayers to the people of Orlando.

After the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub, people wanted to help so many wanted to donate blood. The FDA's recommendation is to not accept blood donations from gay men if they've had sex in the last year. Gay men who went to donate were angry when they were turned away. Dozens of people are still being treated for their injuries and doctors say the death toll will continue to rise.

We will have more on this developing story at 4:55 a.m. and throughout the day.

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