Crime

Police Release Orlando Shooter's 911 Calls

| by Nik Bonopartis

Trying to hold the attention of a man who had just gunned down 49 people inside a nightclub, with dozens more at his mercy, the police negotiator remained calm.

"Can you tell me what you know about what's going on tonight?" the negotiator, identified only as "Andy," asked 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"What's going on," Mateen replied, "is that I feel the pain of the people getting killed in Syria and Iraq, and others of the Muslim..."

When the negotiator cuts Mateen off and asks what he's done, the self-professed Islamic State allegiant's tone changed.

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"You already know what I did," Mateen growled, his voice thick with contempt.

That snippet is from about 30 minutes of police dispatch recordings from the early morning hours of June 12, after Mateen walked into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, and opened fire on the crowd with a semi-automatic assault rifle and a handgun.

On Oct. 31, after two dozen media companies had been pushing Freedom of Information Act requests for the better part of four months, Orange Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber finally ordered the city of Orlando to comply with open records laws and release the recordings.

They provide insight into the mind of Mateen, who died several hours later in a shootout with cops, as well as the initially confused response of a dispatcher and the delicate balancing act of a negotiator who tried to keep the gunman distracted, buying time for officers on the ground to move in on the grisly mass murder scene.

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Since then, details of Mateen's life have filled in some of the blanks, sketching a portait of a frustrated man who was the son of Afghan immigrant parents and who likely struggled to reconcile his Muslim faith with his sexual orientation.

Although Mateen was married twice and had been vocal about his opposition to the gay community, he was also a regular at Pulse who was known to others who frequented the nightclub.

In the dispatch recordings, Mateen is heard reciting a prayer in Arabic before telling a dispatcher flatly: "I wanna let you know I'm in Orlando, and I did the shooting."

Mateen pledged his support to ISIS while speaking with the dispatcher before the call was taken over by the Orlando police hostage negotiator, Andy.

"You have to tell American to stop bombing Syria and Iraq," Mateen told Andy.

Surrounded by carnage of his own making, Mateen chastised the U.S. for "killing a lot of innocent people."

"What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there?" he asked the negotiator. "Do you get what I'm saying?"

"I do," Andy replied. "I completely get what you're saying. What I'm trying to do is prevent anyone else from getting..."

"They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes," Mateen said, cutting the negotiator off. "They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes, okay?"

Mateen was referring to American intervention in Syria's civil war, where government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been fighting rebel groups -- including elements of ISIS and al Qaeda -- for the better part of five years.

While Mateen remained fixated on Syria and Iraq, the hostage negotiator tried to appeal to the gunman, saying he was taking Mateen seriously.

"I'm trying to figure out how to keep you safe and how to get this resolved peacefully, because I'm not a politician, I'm not a government," he said. "All I can do is help individuals and I want to start with helping you."

In the age of interconnectedness and digital technology, the conversations with the police negotiator weren't Mateen's only windows to the world during the final hours of his life. He also posted on Facebook during the shooting while his victims lay dying, according to Fox News.

“The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west," Mateen wrote on the social media platform. "You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes..now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, Fox News / Photo credit: Rhododendrites​/Wikimedia Commons

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