FBI releases conversations between Orlando gunman and police

Police cars surround the Pulse Orlando nightclub, the scene of a fatal shooting, in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The FBI on Monday morning released a timeline of the deadly shooting inside an Orlando gay nightclub on Sunday, June 12 in which 49 people were killed.

Gunman Omar Mateen spoke in Arabic to a 911 dispatcher, identified himself an Islamic soldier and demanded to a crisis negotiator that the U.S. “stop bombing Syria and Iraq,” according to the transcripts.

The printed transcripts were of three conversations Mateen had with the police during the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Those communications, along with Facebook posts Mateen made before and after the shooting, add to the public understanding of the final hours of Mateen’s life.

The first call came more than a half hour after shots rang out, when Mateen told a 911 operator, “Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God,” he told the dispatcher, referring to God in Arabic.

“I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.”

Mateen’s name and the groups and people to whom he pledged allegiance were originally omitted from the excerpt. But the transcript was later released with Mateen’s name. Shortly after the call, Mateen had three conversations with crisis negotiators in which he identified himself as an Islamic soldier and told a negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now,” according to the excerpt.

The release came a day after tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil in the heart of downtown Orlando for the 49 victims who died. The victims also were remembered at church services and at makeshift memorials throughout Orlando.

“As a community, it’s important that we gather together to show our support because only together can we move forward,” said Gabrielle Claire, a musician and Universal Orlando worker who says she knew three Pulse victims who died. She was holding a “Hugs for Healing” sign at the vigil and numerous strangers came up to hug her.

“We don’t have to be afraid of holding each other. We don’t have to be afraid of saying to other people, ‘I’m here for you,'” she said.

Meanwhile, hospital officials said four people remained in critical condition Monday morning, more than a week after they were wounded in the attack.

Orlando Regional Medical Center said 18 victims from the shooting were still at the hospital and three more surgeries were scheduled for Monday. The other 14 patients are listed in stable condition.

The transcripts below were released by authorities on Monday morning. Police say they will not be releasing audio of the shooter’s 911 calls at this time out of respect for the victims of the tragedy. The name of the shooter and the group to whom he pledged allegiance has been omitted from the transcripts. 
The following is based on Orlando Police Department (OPD) radio communication (times are approximate):

2:02 a.m.:       OPD call transmitted multiple shots fired at Pulse nightclub.
2:04a.m.:        Additional OPD officers arrived on scene.
2:08 a.m.:       Officers from various law enforcement agencies made entrance to Pulse and engaged the shooter.
2:18 a.m.:       OPD S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons & Tactics) initiated a full call-out.
2:35 a.m.:       Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse.  The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:

(OD)   Orlando Police Dispatcher

(OM)   Omar Mateen

OD:     Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

OM:     In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]

OD:     What?

OM:     Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.

OD:     What’s your name?

OM:     My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.

OD:     Ok, What’s your name?

OM:     I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.

OD:     Alright, where are you at?

OM:     In Orlando.

OD:     Where in Orlando?

[End of call.]

(Shortly thereafter, the shooter engaged in three conversations with OPD’s Crisis Negotiation Team.)

2:48 a.m.:       First crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately nine minutes.
3:03 a.m.:       Second crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately 16 minutes.
3:24 a.m.:       Third crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately three minutes.

In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.” When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.” The shooter continued, stating, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.” Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France.” The shooter later stated, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.” The shooter hung up and multiple attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.

4:21 a.m.:       OPD pulled an air conditioning unit out of a Pulse dressing room window for victims to evacuate.

(While the FBI will not be releasing transcripts of OPD communication with victims, significant information obtained from those victims allowed OPD to gain knowledge of the situation inside Pulse.)

4:29 a.m.:       As victims were being rescued, they told OPD the shooter said he was going to put four vests with bombs on victims within 15 minutes.

(An immediate search of the shooter’s vehicle on scene and inside Pulse ultimately revealed no vest or improvised explosive device.)

5:02 a.m.:       OPD SWAT and OCSO Hazardous Device Team began to breach wall with explosive charge and armored vehicle to make entry.
5:14 a.m.:       OPD radio communicationstated that shots were fired.
5:15 a.m.:       OPD radio communication stated that OPD engaged the suspect and the suspect wasreported down.

Based on OPD radio communications, there were no reports of shots being fired inside Pulse between the initial exchange of gunfire between responding officers and shooter, and the time of the final breach. During this time, the shooter communicated with an OPD 911 operator and an OPD crisis negotiator, and OPD radio communications reported that victims were being rescued.

The FBI urges the public to provide information about the shooter and any contact they may have had with him. Since the release of the FBI’s Seeking Information poster, the FBI has received thousands of tips. The FBI will investigate every tip.

To provide a tip, please call1-800-CALL-FBI or visit tips.fbi.gov.

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