US & Canada

Orlando shootings: Police deny false claims of 'multiple gunmen'

The scene of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub Image copyright AFP/ Orlando Police Department
Image caption Hours after the shooting, false reports appeared on social media that multiple gunmen were involved

Orlando police have denied claims that "multiple gunmen" were involved in the Pulse nightclub shooting, after false reports that "two others" were "still out there" were shared by thousands of people online.

The false claims began circulating on social media shortly after the attack.

A Facebook post by a man who claimed to know one of the survivors was shared more than 60,000 times.

Some US news outlets had also reported claims of multiple gunmen.

Their reports were subsequently updated to reflect statements from police that only one man, Omar Mateen, was behind the attack.

Image copyright WWLP-22News

On Monday, a screen grab of the Facebook status, which continued to claim that multiple gunmen were "still out there", was shared thousands of times on Twitter, along with claims that "Facebook has deleted this post", because "the media didn't want to scare the public".

The author of the Facebook post, Cody Agnew, claimed that his "employee's sister" was caught up in the attack and that she "took 12 bullets, 11 were removed and one is in her liver and can't be taken out".

Image copyright Cody Agnew Facebook

His post then described how the injured woman was "coherent" and also warned her friends and family that "there were two others in the club who were slaughtering people".

Orlando Police quickly denied the claims after Twitter users directed their attention to the post.

Image copyright Orlando Police

Despite their denial being re-tweeted about 500 times, the claim that multiple gunmen were involved has continued to circulate on social media, and has stirred debate on Facebook.

Image copyright Facebook

Some users have also investigated Cody Agnew's account and shared screen grabs of his other Facebook updates.

In these posts, he claimed to have a terminal illness in 2012, and asked various singers including Christina Milian, if they would be willing to "kiss a dying boy on the lips".

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Screen grabs from previous posts by Cody Agnew show the account attempting to solicit kisses from the pop start Christina Milian by claiming to have aids back in 2012.

It is impossible to probe Cody Agnew's account further as he has now deleted his profile from Facebook.

Reports of multiple gun shots at the club have now been explained by the fact that an off-duty police officer, who was working there, engaged Mateen in a gun battle before other officers arrived.

This is not the first time that false reports have received attention on social media after mass shootings.

Following the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012, in which 26 people died, a YouTube video, which claimed the event had been faked, was watched by more than 8.6 million people. despite being debunked as a conspiracy theory.

Reporting by Hannah Henderson