Authorities had already released transcripts of the chilling exchanges between police and Omar Mateen, the troubled security guard who proclaimed himself an “Islamic soldier” and fatally shot 49 people inside an Orlando nightclub in June.
But for the first time on Monday, the public heard Mateen in his own voice as he calmly and sharply attacked his adopted home country over military actions in the Middle East, taunted a police negotiator and toyed with law enforcement by falsely claiming car bombs would “take out a whole city block.”
“Your people are going to get it and I’m going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid,” Mateen told a police negotiator in the audio recordings released by the city of Orlando on Monday.
Throughout the recordings, Mateen defiantly refused to surrender, wouldn’t answer many questions, ignored others with long stretches of silence and hung up repeatedly on police. His demeanor jumped from stern to disinterested to sarcastic and mocking — at one point, he asked a negotiator when he graduated from the police academy.
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“No, no, no, Mr. hostage negotiator, don’t try no bullsh*t games with me,” Mateen replied when asked if he had help in the shooting. “None of your business, homeboy.”
Orlando released the police audio files Monday after a judge sided with a group of news agencies that had sued to make the recordings public.
On June 12, Mateen, a 29-year-old Fort Pierce man, stormed the LGBT nightclub in what has been billed at the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Mateen also wounded 68 people, and holed up for several hours inside the club’s bathroom before he was shot to death by police who tried entering the building.
“I want to let you know I’m in Orlando and I did the shooting,” Mateen told a seemingly stunned 911 operator before hanging up.
Mateen also claimed he was wearing a bomb vest like the ones worn by ISIS attackers in France.
Throughout the phone calls, Mateen spoke in what appeared to police a “sterile” and quiet environment — one officer correctly guessed the shooter was inside a bathroom. Mateen demanded an end to U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, referenced other American terrorists, including Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and warned of more violence to come.
He claimed he was triggered by the May airstrike that killed Abu Wahid, an Islamic State military leader and told police to “call me Mujahideen, call me the Soldier of the God.”
The calls also reveal the calm urgency of a police negotiator who identified himself as Andy. In an effort to get him to surrender, he repeatedly asked if Mateen was hurt, then played to the man’s grandiosity, saying his message would get out easier if he ended the standoff peacefully.
“I’ll arrange media, whatever you want,” Andy told Mateen before the gunman hung up yet again.
After several calls, Mateen grew peevish. “You’re annoying me with these phone calls, I don’t appreciate it,” Mateen said before ending the call.