VA Deploys Mental Health Staff in Orlando After Mass Shooting

Friends, family remember victims of Florida shooting (Associated Press)
Friends, family remember victims of Florida shooting (Associated Press)

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Orlando is providing emergency mental health assistance to people affected by the bloody rampage at a nightclub early Sunday that killed 49 and left 53 wounded.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the VA said its services would be available to veterans and department employees, as well as the general public "in the wake of the tragic mass shooting."

Police say Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen and Muslim who lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, entered The Pulse, a gay nightspot, early Sunday morning and opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock handgun.

The medical center's Mobile Medical Unit is located at the Beardall Senior Center, 800 Delaney Ave., about three miles from The Pulse nightclub at 1912 South Orange Ave. The mobile unit will remain open Monday night until 11 p.m., officials said, and can be contacted at 321-277-6672.

"This MMU is staffed with world-class mental health professionals and outreach staff ready now to assist anyone experiencing high levels of anxiety or fear due to the mass shooting," the VA said in a statement.

Police say Mateen called 911 to say he had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group shortly before he began his shooting spree. He was shot and killed as police moved in to rescue club patrons.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at@BryantJordan.

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