ORLANDO, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal investigators are providing more insight as to what was happening inside the Pulse nightclub after a gunman started a deadly assault that was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
As CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported, on Monday, the FBI released a printed, transcript of the conversations between the gunman within the nightclub and Orlando police negotiators, as well as a 911 operator. Armed with a semi-automatic weapon, Omar Mateen went on a bloody rampage at the club on June 12 that left 49 people dead and 53 others hurt. Mateen died in a hail of police gunfire.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said officers were on the scene within minutes and saved many lives. Mina said the timeline released by the FBI clearly shows officers’ arrival and that their initial entry caused Mateen to stop shooting. Mina also emphasized that the incident started as an active shooter situation.
Shots were first reported at the club at 2:02 a.m.
Police responded and exchanged gunfire with the shooter at 2:08 a.m.
At 2:35 a.m., FBI officials said Mateen called 911 and described his actions to a dispatcher in a “chilling, calm and deliberate manner.” He spoke with the dispatcher for about 50 seconds, before the call abruptly came to an end.
Dispatcher: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
Mateen: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
Mateen: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
Dispatcher: What’s your name?
Mateen: My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
Dispatcher: Ok, What’s your name?
Mateen: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of Islamic State.
Dispatcher: Alright, where are you at?
Mateen: In Orlando.
Dispatcher: Where in Orlando?
Mateen later spoke with hostage negotiators three times between 2:48 a.m. and 3:24 a.m. He identified himself as an Islamic soldier and “told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was ‘out here right now,” according to the documents released by the FBI. He also claimed there were vehicles outside the club equipped with bombs and told negotiators, “You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.”
Some parts of the calls released by the FBI were initially redacted, including Mateen’s pledge to ISIS. Ron Hopper of the FBI said officials won’t “propagate violent rhetoric” by giving full transcripts.
But late Monday, the Department of Justice released a non-redacted version.
Still Hopper said they would not be releasing the audio.
“While we are not releasing the audio, what I can tell is that while the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm, and deliberate manner,” Hopper said.
Still officials refused to release hundreds of other 911 calls, they said, out of respect for the victims’ families.
“We will not be releasing the 911 calls made by the victims. We are doing this out of respect. Yes, the audio was compelling, but to expose that now would be excruciatingly painful to exploit them in this way,” Hopper said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted Monday saying the Obama administration should release the full, unredacted transcript.
“The selective editing of the Orlando shooter’s 911 call transcript is preposterous,” Ryan said.
Mateen also said he had a vest similar to the one “used in France,” and told negotiators, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.”
Police did not find any explosives.
Just before 4:30 a.m., police pulled an air conditioning unit out of a dressing room window to rescue victims who told police “the shooter said he was going to put four vests with bombs on victims within 15 minutes.”
SWAT teams made their way into the club at 5:02 a.m. and shots were reported at 5:14 a.m. The suspect was reported down a minute later. Mina said that during the three-hour period after officers arrived on the scene, no shots were fired.
Orlando police have been defending themselves from criticism over how they responded to the shooting. The chief has not ruled out the possibility that some of the victims were shot by officers during the search for Mateen.
“That is part of the investigation, but in my mind all the killing are on the shooter,” Chief John Mina, Orlando Police said.
Mateen was not directed by a foreign terror group and was radicalized domestically, officials said.
Mateen’s wife remains under suspicion, but she has not been charged, CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported. Police say she was with him when he purchased ammunition and when he took surveillance trips to Disney World and the nightclub.
The release of the transcript is coming a day after tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil in the heart of downtown Orlando for the 49 victims who died in the massacre. The victims also were remembered at church services and at makeshift memorials throughout Orlando.
Meanwhile, Orlando Regional Medical Center officials say four people remain in critical condition more than a week after they were wounded in the attack.
Eighteen victims are still at the hospital and three more surgeries are scheduled for Monday. The other 14 patients are listed in stable condition.
Since the shooting, surgeons have performed 54 surgeries on the victims. The hospital treated 44 people after the shooting. Nine patients died and 17 have been released.
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