By now you've probably heard that there was a mass shooting at popular Orlando gay nightclub Pulse early Sunday around 2 a.m. The New York Times reports that the shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, killed 49 people and left 53 others injured.
Orlando police chief John Mina told the Washington Post at a press conference that authorities are treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism. He added that Mateen was killed after a three-hour standoff with police.
"It's absolutely terrible," Mina said. "Fifty victims in one location, one shooting, is absolutely one of the worst tragedies we've ever seen."
USA Today reports that Pulse, which opened in 2004, bills itself as "not just another gay club." The newspaper also reports that owner Barbara Poma says she opened the club to promote awareness of Orlando's LGBT community and to honor the memory of her brother John, who was gay.
"It was important to create an atmosphere that embraced the gay lifestyle with decor that would make John proud. Most importantly, [we] coined the name Pulse for John’s heartbeat — as a club that is John’s inspiration, where he is kept alive in the eyes of his friends and family," Pulse's official website reads.
The club hosted monthly themed nights and LGBT-related educational events. Saturday was Latin Night.
Here's how you can help in the wake of this horrific tragedy.
1. Donate blood. The American Red Cross has already reported that its Orlando branch doesn't accept donations; however, the Red Cross has pointed people toward Orlando-based blood bank OneBlood. For its part, OneBlood representatives say they've been so overwhelmed by the response that for now, they need people to stop coming this weekend and instead to make appointments in the coming days.
"The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it's a little too much too soon," OneBlood spokesperson Pat Michaels told the Orlando Sentinel. However, he stressed that the supply will need to be replenished over the coming days, so donations are still welcome.
2. Donate money to the victims' families. LGBT organization Equality Florida has launched a GoFundMe page and is working with other local organizations to disperse the money to victims and their families.
3. Support campaigns to end gun violence. Let politicians know that Americans are tired of senseless violence. Voicing your support for campaigns such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will hopefully go a long way in reducing gun deaths by changing laws to require more stringent background checks and stopping "bad apple" gun dealers.
4. Speak out against hatred. Violence against transgender people and LGBTQ people of color is disproportionately higher than the general population, GLAAD reports. In fact, a 2011 study found that while hate crimes generally have decreased since 2009, hate murders have increased, and that 87 percent of anti-LGBTQ murder victims were people of color. This attack was an attack specifically on an LGBT community of color, and while stricter gun control laws will hopefully reduce the chances of violence like this from happening again, this didn't happen in a vacuum. It's important to speak out not just against high-profile transphobic laws — such as North Carolina's recent bathroom law, which would bar transgender people from using the bathrooms with which they identify — but hatred in any form.