Family and friends called 911 from all distances — just outside the club, safely down the street or in a totally different city — but they all wanted to know the same thing: Is my loved one going to be OK?
In the first release of Orlando Police 911 calls from the deadly Pulse shooting, operators relayed information from family members and told them to tell the people inside the club to stay quiet, stay hidden and text instead of call.
At 2:31 a.m., a father in Tampa told operators his daughter said she was shot in the leg and arm, then stopped answering her phone.
“I tried calling her back...it goes to voicemail” he said. “All she told us is she was hiding in the bathroom.”
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The operator told him to “take a deep breath, and hopefully she’ll call you really soon, OK?”
Because the names and identifying details are bleeped out of these calls, there’s no way to know what happened to his daughter.
A scared woman told an operator at 2:36 a.m. she’d walked out of the club just ahead of her girlfriend, and that’s when the shooting started. Now her girlfriend was trapped in a dressing room.
‘She’s freaking out right now,” the woman said. “She says please tell the cops, tell the cops, tell the cops.”
The Thursday release made public a fraction of the city of Orlando’s 911 calls from that night, while its lawyers claim it isn’t legally required to share any of its calls.
This release follows the lead of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which issued 17 calls on Tuesday. Like those from Orlando, the Orange County calls were from concerned family and friends on behalf of their loved ones.
In a statement, Orlando Police said “The FBI has approved these calls for release as they do not contain anything that is considered ‘active criminal investigative’ material.”
They did not say when — or if — more calls would be issued. Florida’s law makes 911 calls a public record.
The Miami Herald, along with a group of other media organizations, is suing the City of Orlando for the release of the more than 600 calls made to 911 that morning, including four from the shooter himself. The city has argued the calls are exempt because they contain audio of people being killed.
Rachel Fugate, a partner from Thomas and LoCicero representing the media’s case, said she has never seen 911 calls held for that reason.
“The release only represents a fraction of the calls requested, so they case will continue,” she said. “I do think the release shows that these calls should have been produced in the first instance.”