Florida

As woman bled outside Pulse nightclub, sister sobbed, begged 911 for help

emichot@miamiherald.com

Five months after 49 people were massacred inside an Orlando nightclub, no 911 calls made from inside Pulse have been released, although a court ruled that they will be soon.

In a batch released Monday by the City of Orlando, the closest call was from a crying woman in front of the club. The young woman called 911 at 2:38 a.m., begging for help for her sister, who was shot in the side.

The City of Orlando released 36 calls on Monday after a court sided with media organizations, including the Miami Herald, that sued for their release. In one of the calls released, a dispatcher walks a young woman through basic first aid and calms

“Am I supposed to do something?” she asked the operator.

“Is she bleeding a lot?” the operator responded.

“She looks like she's bleeding a lot,” the woman said. “I got it all over me.”

The dispatcher walked the hysterically sobbing woman through basic first aid and tried to calm her down, saying, “Tell her to look at you and talk to you ... so she doesn’t focus on her pain.”

Read More: More 911 calls from Pulse track shooter’s movement, bomb claims

The bulk of the calls detail the frustration that an Orlando police negotiator (who called himself Officer Andy) had while trying to reach Omar Mateen, the shooter. Mateen spoke with police for 28 total minutes during the three-hour standoff. Whenever the negotiator wasn’t speaking with Mateen, he was repeatedly calling Mateen’s cellphone.

“He sounds sober as the day is long and not stressed at all,” an unidentified officer said at 3:20 a.m., around half an hour after Mateen’s first conversation with the negotiator. Mateen stopped answering calls five minutes later, although the new records show that the negotiator kept calling until at least 5 a.m.

Moments later, authorities used controlled explosions and an armored vehicle to enter the building, killing Mateen in a final gun battle and retrieving the last group of hostages.

Read More: Mateen said he slaughtered club patrons to avenge U.S. airstrikes

The City of Orlando released 36 calls on Monday after a court sided with media organizations, including the Miami Herald, that sued for their release.

Of the more than 600 calls made to police and fire that morning, the city argued that 232 of the calls are protected from disclosure because they contain audio of people dying, of gunfire or of suffering.

In the city’s view, any call from inside the club during that time falls under that exemption. The court agreed that the gunfire is too chaotic to determine which gunshots killed which individuals, and the voices on all the calls have not been identified, so it’s unclear if the callers were killed.

However, the court agreed with the news organizations that there is “good cause” to release the rest of the calls (after removing personal information).

The court said the calls surrounding the initial burst of gunfire just after 2 a.m. are “graphic and disturbing,” so transcripts will be released instead of audio. The rest will be released as the city takes out material that identifies the callers, although there is no set schedule.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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