Florida

New details emerge about where the victims of the Pulse massacre died

AP

Thirteen people died in the bathrooms of Pulse nightclub as police surrounded and negotiated with the shooter, Omar Mateen.

The breakdown of where the 49 victims of the June massacre perished is part of a 78-slide presentation released by Orlando police and presented to police groups across the world by Orlando Police Chief John Mina. The slides offer a more detailed timeline of police response, but hold no details on whether friendly fire was a factor. That will be answered when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement releases its report.

Read More: ‘Dude, that was a massacre’: Body cameras show deputies responding to Pulse shooting

Mateen, a 29-year-old Fort Pierce security guard, entered the LGBTQ club and started shooting at the crowd of revelers celebrating Pulse’s “Latin Night.” OPD said 20 of the nearly 50 victims died on the dance floor and stage area.

There were so many bodies on the dance floor that one officer was overheard on body camera footage saying, “If you’re alive, raise your hand.”

Three more people died on the stage; one died on the patio; and one died in the club’s front lobby, the presentation noted. Two more victims died in the triage area, and the last nine died at the hospital. About 300 law enforcement agents from dozens of agencies swarmed the club during the three-hour hostage negotiation.

 

Although the presentation’s timeline confirms police had Mateen cornered to the bathrooms within 10 minutes of his first shots, officers didn’t broach the bathrooms until nearly three hours later. This has earned the department criticism for what some view as its inaction.

OPD contends that witnesses — and Mateen himself — told them he had explosives inside and outside of the bathroom. A photo in the presentation shows Mateen’s car outside the club, with broken windows, a door stripped off and the hood up, after police searched it for bombs.

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

Mateen told the hostage negotiator that his car had enough explosives to “take out a whole city block almost” and that he had bomb vests on himself and the hostages. No bombs were found.

Police used explosives and an armored car to bust through the club’s back wall and into the hallway connecting the bathrooms full of hostages just after 5 a.m. The police presentation said about 18 victims were rescued from the bathrooms, five in the women’s restroom, where Mateen spent most of the three hours, and 13 in the men’s restroom.

The Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub hit home with Miami poet Richard Blanco, best known for his poem ‘One Today’ delivered at President Obama’s second inauguration. Here is Blanco’s poem for Orlando.

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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