A new report on the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history has revealed new details of what first-responders encountered when they arrived at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, including a dance floor covered with so many bodies that one officer shouted out: "If you’re alive, raise your hand."
The details of the June 12, 2016, shooting, which left 49 dead and 58 injured, were part of a presentation Orlando Police Chief John Mina has given to outside police groups. The report, published Friday by WKMG-TV, provides a minute-by-minute account of law enforcement's response that night.
Orlando Police Detective Adam Gruler was the first officer to fire at the shooter, Omar Mateen, who entered the club with a military-style rifle and started rapidly shooting at people on the main dance floor.
Gruler called for backup and people immediately started fleeing in multiple directions, according to the report. Gruler was able to fire several rounds at Mateen, who was standing just inside the double doors of the club.
Another police officer arrived 1 minute and 20 seconds later to back up Gruler. About a minute later, they were joined by another officer who arrived at the scene in a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
At about 2:05 a.m., Gruler again fired multiple shots at Mateen, who was now on the main dance floor. At that point, the rapid fire of gunshots coming from inside Pulse had stopped, according to the report.
“Guys, approach, let's go!” Gruler yelled at three officers as they entered the club with him at 2:06 a.m.
One minute later, multiple officers arrived from various agencies at the same time Mateen ran from the main dance floor to the back bathrooms. Soon after, 6 minutes and 8 seconds after the shooting started, a team entered the club and started rescuing victims.
At about 2:10 a.m., an Orlando police Lt. Scott Smith cornered Mateen in the bathroom where he has holed up.
Numerous officers and deputies, meanwhile, started pulling victims from the dance floor. Seven people were pulled from the floor and carried away as two officers fired shots at Mateen down a hallway.
A total of 20 people were killed on the dance floor and stage area, many of them without any warning or chance to react, the report states.
The fire department was so overwhelmed with patients that officers had to use an unmarked Ford F-150 as a makeshift ambulance. According to Mina’s presentation, 15 people were taken to Orlando Health in marked police cars and pickup trucks.
Over the next hours, police and first responders continued to pull people out of the club as Mateen hid.
At 5:15 a.m., SWAT officers deployed two flash bang grenades and used an armored vehicle to breach the north bathroom wall, forcing Mateen out of the bathroom and into the hallway, where he fired at other SWAT officers, who returned fire, killing him.
One of the SWAT officers was hit, but the bullet struck his helmet, saving his life.
Earlier during the standoff, Mateen told police he was trying to send a message against US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and compared himself to other American terrorists.
Born and raised in New York, Mateen had recently moved with his family to Port St. Lucie in eastern Florida, where he had worked as a contracted security guard.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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