Authorities have released partial, redacted transcripts of the 911 calls Orlando shooter Omar Mateen made before and during his shooting spree at the Pulse nightclub, NPR News is reporting.
In the course of three separate phone calls, lasting nine minutes, 16 minutes, and three minutes, Mateen spent nearly half an hour on the phone with 911 operators and the Orlando Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team. Those phone calls give a chilling insight into what was going on in the killer’s mind during the three-hour standoff on June 12.
Further, the transcripts reveal the horror inside the Pulse nightclub that morning and shine a light on the heroic actions of the Orlando Police Department in responding to the shooting.
“Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.”
— Gawker (@Gawker) June 20, 2016
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hopper said Monday that during the calls, Mateen spoke in a “chilling, calm and deliberate manner.”
During one of his calls, Mateen threatened to “ignite” a vehicle packed with explosives that he claimed was parked outside of the club. In fact, no such vehicle and no explosives were ever found.
One phrase conspicuously absent from the transcripts is “Islamic State,” or “ISIS,” the terrorist organization to which Mateen pledged allegiance before the shooting. In a controversial decision, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Sunday that all references to ISIS, jihad, and Mateen’s radical Islamist beliefs would be scrubbed from the transcripts, according to Fox News. Lynch justified the decision by saying that including such verbiage in the transcripts would help further ISIS and Islamist propaganda.
“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda. We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to ISIS].”
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) June 20, 2016
The transcripts also helped authorities put together an updated timeline of the events at the club that morning.
The Orlando Police Department were first made aware of shots fired at the Pulse nightclub at 2:02 a.m. By 2:09 a.m., OPD officers had entered Pulse nightclub and “engaged the shooter.” OPD Chief John Mina said, via NBC News, that Mateen took hostages and holed up in a bathroom after he was “engaged” with OPD officers.
“That engagement and that initial entry caused him to retreat, stop shooting and barricade himself in the bathroom with hostages. There was no other gunfire until the hostage rescue took place.”
It was at 2:35 a.m. that Mateen made his first 911 call.
By 4:21 a.m., with Mateen barricaded in a bathroom with hostages, the OPD was working to evacuate the night club as quickly and as safely as possible. In one instance, cops removed an air conditioning unit in a dressing room so victims could escape through the wall.
At 5:14 a.m., OPD dispatch received word that shots had been fired. At 5:15 a.m., OPD confirmed that Mateen had been shot dead.
Omar Mateen was not the only person on the phone with 911 that morning. As the mass shooting and its aftermath were playing out at the Pulse nightclub, victims of the shooting were themselves talking to 911 on their cell phones, giving police an idea of what was going on in the club. At least one caller stated that Mateen had threatened to put explosive vests on victims and detonate them. No such explosives were found.
Authorities have stated that, out of respect for the victims and their families, they will not release audio or transcripts of any 911 calls from the Pulse shooting victims.
[Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images]