search
Mateen moved through the club, shooting at each person on the ground to be sure they were dead

Gunfire, hostages, a violent end: How the Orlando massacre unfolded

Forty-nine people were shot dead by Omar Mateen Sunday; now the horrific details are emerging

Two bodies of victims arrive at the Orlando Medical Examiner's Office, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, killing 49 before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Two bodies of victims arrive at the Orlando Medical Examiner's Office, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, killing 49 before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

The following is a description of the deadly shooting rampage that unfolded at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub early Sunday, where 49 people were shot dead and 53 others were wounded, according to authorities and witness accounts.

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

Closing time: shooter on the scene

— Just after 2:00 am as the club was closing, Mateen, a 29-year-old American of Afghan descent, opens fire.

— An off-duty policeman working at the club engages the suspect, “somewhere near one of the entrances,” according to Orlando Police Chief John Mina. Shots are fired.

Omar Mateen, 30, from Port St. Lucie, Florida, the gunman in a mass shooting attack that killed 50 at an Orlando gay nightclub, according to police, June 12, 2016. (MySpace)
Omar Mateen, 30, from Port St. Lucie, Florida, the gunman in a mass shooting attack that killed 50 at an Orlando gay nightclub, according to police, June 12, 2016. (MySpace)

— Shortly after that, more officers respond to the scene and enter the club. More shots are fired.

— At 2:09 am, the club posts a message on Facebook that reads: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

— Clubgoer Christopher Hanson says he thought at first that the loud, rhythmic sounds were part of the music “until you heard too many shots. It was like, bang, bang, bang, bang.”

“I just saw bodies going down and I was ordering a drink at the bar. I fell down. I crawled out. People were trying to escape out the back,” he told CNN.

FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

Hostages taken

— Mateen, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, retreats to a club bathroom, where Mina says he is believed to have held four or five hostages.

— “It was like complete chaos. If I can relate it to anything, I would say it was like a scene out of a movie,” witness Janiel Gonzalez tells AFP.

“People were screaming ‘Help me, help me, I’m trapped.’ And people were getting trampled. There was no clear exit sign at the club, so we didn’t know which door to take or where to go.”

— One of the wounded, Angel Colon Jr, describes how Mateen moved through the club, shooting at each person on the ground to be sure they were dead.

An Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT member arrives to the scene of a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
An Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT member arrives to the scene of a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Police fear ‘bomb vests’ talk

— After Mateen takes hostages, police are able to free “dozens and dozens of people” both injured and not injured, Mina says.

— Mateen calls the emergency number 911 a total of three times, according to FBI Director James Comey.

“During the calls, he said he was doing this for the leader of ISIL, who he named and pledged loyalty to,” Comey tells reporters on Monday, referring to the Islamic State group.

“But he also appeared to claim solidarity with the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing and solidarity with a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for al-Nusra Front, a group in conflict with the so-called Islamic State.”

— Mateen also talks to crisis negotiators on the scene. “Things kind of stabilized,” Mina says.

— Eventually, Mateen talks about “bomb vests, about explosives throughout,” Mina says. Police fear the worst and start planning to blast their way into the club.

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Chaotic end

— At 5:00 am, Mina says he takes the “hard decision” to move in, fearing that “further loss of life was imminent.”

— A SWAT team carries out a controlled explosion. Police then use an armored vehicle to punch a hole in the wall of the club. Dozens of clubgoers escape through the hole.

— Mateen also emerges and fires at law enforcement. He is killed in the crossfire.

— One police officer is shot in the head, but his helmet saves his life.

— “We believe we prevented a future loss of life and saved many, many lives,” Mina says.

Two women place flowers for the victims of the fatal shootings at Pulse Orlando nightclub at a makeshift memorial Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Two women place flowers for the victims of the fatal shootings at Pulse Orlando nightclub at a makeshift memorial Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed