On June 12, 2016, a lone gunman, Omar Mateen, walked into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and opened fire on patrons of the gay-friendly establishment. A total of 49 people were killed in the Pulse attack, thus making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
The brand new body camera (bodycam) footage was recently released by the Belle Isle Police Department in Orlando. The footage shows the moments when police entered the Pulse club from the vantage point of the officers responding to the attack. At the time, Omar Mateen was still alive and had cornered a group of survivors near the back of Pulse club.
More than 30 videos were released that reveal the officers assessing the full extent of casualties. In one of the videos, we see footage from Officer Brandon Cornwell’s bodycam as he enters Pulse club through a broken window. He immediately positioned himself behind a bar area as his fellow officers began yelling at Mateen.
Suddenly we hear an officer screaming, followed by a torrent of gunfire from within Pulse. According to Orlando Police Chief John Mina, officers did not hit their target at this point, and Mateen did not return fire. An officer continued to shout instructions at Mateen.
“You, in the bathroom, let me see your hands now. Come out with your hands up, or you will die.”
More than 15 hours of footage was released to the public by the Orlando Sentinel, revealing scenes of chaos outside Pulse in the immediate aftermath of the initial attack. Below are some videos sourced from the Daily Mail, showing the first scene described above.
Please note that sensitive viewers may find the following footage upsetting.
The bodycam attached to officer Graham Cage shows a colleague helping a person exit a bathroom inside Pulse and then proceeds to lead them down a hallway towards the street outside. At the time officers were not able to determine how many attackers were involved, so all Pulse patrons were treated with caution as potential suspects.
“Hands up, both hands, put your hands up. Follow the sound of my voice. Come this way.”
In different footage, people who were not injured can be seen fleeing the site of the massacre while also holding their hands in the air, as directed by officers.
A police officer can be heard saying “Lord Jesus, watch over me,” as he approaches the gunman and the hostages.
The following video shows survivors being searched by police outside the Pulse club, while other officers continue to help patrons away from the scene to safety.
It was moments after 2:00 a.m. when Omar Mateen entered Pulse nightclub carrying a SIG-Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle, as well as a 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol. After claiming allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), Mateen opened fire inside Pulse, killing 49 people and injuring more than 58 survivors.
Following a stand-off with police that lasted for three hours, Mateen was finally killed, and his hostages were safely led away from the scene.
The owner of the Pulse nightclub, Barbara Poma, has announced that the Orlando-based gay establishment will now be turned into a memorial site and a museum in honor of those who died in the Pulse massacre. ABC News reported that Poma wanted the club to be a place where the families of those who were slain could find bereavement.
Poma would also like to use the space to offer future generations the opportunity to be educated about the importance of tolerance in any society that is diverse and open.
“What began as a place for fun and joy is now sacred ground. What was once our little corner… is now shared with the world.”
So far Poma has not revealed details about the process of converting Pulse into a museum, or even when it will be open to the public. She believes the development and design of the Pulse museum should be led by the survivors, families of the victims, officers and medics who were on the scene, and the Orlando community.
“The ultimate design and function will be decided by this community.”
The onePULSE Foundation, founded by Barbara Poma, has offered to spearhead a fundraising initiative for the development and construction of the Pulse museum.
The foundation’s board is populated with various celebrities who are open members of the LGBTQI community. Singer Lance Bass and NBA star Jason Collins are among those sitting on the onePULSE board.
Foundations that have constructed memorials to honor victims of previous terror attacks, such as the Oklahoma City and New York City memorials, have served as inspirations to Poma. She believes that the Pulse memorial will similarly act as a site where people will find solace and inspiration in the face of tragedy.
Poma has indicated a desire to open a brand new nightclub but has not provided any details as yet.
More bodycam footage from the night of the Pulse massacre can be viewed on the Orlando Sentinel website.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]