“I want to let you know I'm in Orlando and I did the shooting.”
In a series of calls, beginning with the shooter to 911 and shifting to repeated communications with a hostage negotiator, Omar Mateen explained why he brought two guns into an LGBT Orlando nightclub in June and started shooting just after last call. He killed 49 people and wounded scores more.
Throughout the 28 minutes of talking, Mateen, a 29-year-old Fort Pierce man, 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.
Mateen specifically mentioned the airstrike that killed Abu Wahid, an Islamic State military leader, in May, saying “That’s what triggered it, OK?”
The police negotiator prodded him for information but got little. At times the shooter cursed and taunted the negotiator, who pleaded, “Tell me what’s going on. I’m here. I’m listening. I’m here, I’m listening.”
The 17-page transcript, but no audio, of the calls with authorities was released by the city of Orlando on Friday following a hearing for a lawsuit over the calls. The Miami Herald, along with a group of news organizations, sued the city for the release of its more than 600 calls from that night, including these from Mateen. Although Orlando released some of the calls, the suit is not over.
There was exactly an hour between Mateen’s initial 911 call and the end of the last negotiation at 3:25 a.m.
Mateen started firing just after 2 a.m. After the initial gun battle moments later, police stayed out of the club until they burst into the building with two explosions and a BearCat armored rescue vehicle at 5 a.m., although some hostages in dressing rooms were rescued through window-mounted air conditioning units around 3:15 a.m.
Mateen told the operator, “You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people.” He reportedly talked about it with victims and survivors throughout the night as well.
He specifically mentioned the airstrike that killed Abu Wahid, an Islamic State military leader, in May, saying “That’s what triggered it, OK?”
He warned that a wave of violence was going to sweep the United States following his shooting spree. He said, “in the next few days you're going to see more of this type of action going on … in the name of the Islamic State.”
Between these conversations with the negotiator, who is not identified in the transcript, Mateen called an Orlando TV station and said he did the shooting “for ISIS.”
Over and over to the negotiator, Mateen said that U.S. airstrikes need to end, that he felt the pain of those killed in Syria and Iran.
“They are killing too many children, they are killing too many women, OK?”
When the negotiator asked Mateen what he did, he answered, “You already know what I did.” He threatened to ignite car bombs that he said could “take out a whole city block almost.” Later, he said American bomb sniffing dogs couldn’t smell them.
“Bring your little American bomb dog,” he said. “They are [expletive] outdated anyway.”
He accused the United States of collaborating with Russia to harm Syrians and called the Boston bomber his “homeboy.”
“So now it's my turn, OK?” he said.
He refused to tell the negotiator his name. He preferred “Islamic soldier,” “Mujahideen,” and “Soldier of the God.”
Before he hung up the second time, he told the negotiator he had a vest, the kind “they used in France.” But when the negotiator asked if he meant a bomb vest, Mateen joked no, “like, you know, to go out to a wedding.
In the last conversation, Mateen said he didn’t appreciate the constant calls from the negotiator, who called himself Andy.
Andy asked Mateen one last time to come outside and tell his message so it “rings true from you.”
“Omar?” he asked. But the line was already dead.