Tuesday 6 December 2016

Emergency calls reveal Pulse patron calming others during massacre

Published 16/11/2016 | 04:26

Inset: Mass murderer Omar Mateen (29)
Inset: Mass murderer Omar Mateen (29)
It was the worst mass shooting in US history

A man hiding in the toilets during the Orlando nightclub massacre tried to calm more than a dozen other people trapped alongside him, according to newly-released emergency call recordings.

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The 911 calls reveal the unidentified man trying to reassure and encourage others as he talks to a police dispatcher during the worst mass shooting in modern US history at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June.

To distract one patron from the pain of her gunshot wound, the man asks her to tell him about herself.

"We've made it this far. We've got it. We've got it," the man can be heard saying to the other trapped patrons. "Hang in there."

The man tells the dispatcher two dead bodies are blocking the door, another person is unconscious after suffering a wound to the chest and several of the 15 trapped patrons have gunshot injuries.

He also describes how the wounded patrons are getting weaker.

Stanley Almodovar III
Stanley Almodovar III
Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Luis Vielma
Juan Ramon Guerrero
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

"They need paramedics. I mean now. We have two guys. They are losing blood," the man tells the dispatcher.

Growing frustrated with the fact they have not been rescued yet, the man says a little later: "We need action."

The dispatcher tells him repeatedly during the hour and a half call that officers are going through the club rescuing people and that they should stay where they are.

"They're coming for you right now," the dispatcher says.

The man talking to the dispatcher described how gunman Omar Mateen fired 16 shots into the bathroom without opening the door. Another time, he describes hearing a police robot outside the bathroom door.

The 911 recordings were the latest round of calls released by the city of Orlando after a legal battle with media companies. The firms argued the calls' release would help the public evaluate the police response to the massacre.

In another 911 call, a woman whispers to a dispatcher that Mateen is in the bathroom with her and other patrons and that he is reloading his weapon.

"Hurry up," she whispers repeatedly, before the connection is cut.

Toward the end of the call with the man, the dispatcher warns him that Swat team members are about to set off small explosions in order to breach a wall to the club and rescue them.

Shouting can be heard in the background as the wall is being breached, and then men, presumably officers, command: "Move! Hands up!"

Mateen was killed during a shootout with Swat team members after the wall was breached, ending a three-hour stand-off during which 49 patrons were killed and another 53 people were seriously injured.

Mateen pledged allegiance to Islamic State during a call with police negotiators.

At one point, the dispatcher asks the man if he knows the people he is with in the bathroom. The man says no.

"But I'm learning as I go," he said.

"I don't know people's names, but I do know faces I will never forget as long as I live."

AP

Press Association

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