Newly released videos show horror and panic of the Orlando Massacre
A newly released series of police videos have revealed desperate, terrifying and traumatic scenes from the Orlando Massacre.
The harrowing body cam footage, uncovered by the Orlando Sentinel, shows officers helping petrified victims, cornering the gunman and attending to dead bodies in the club.
Police on the videos can be seen going from confusion to horror over the course of the three-hour stand-off, as they desperately try to figure out and end the deadly situation.
49 people were killed and 53 injured in the terror attack last June on the gay Pulse nightclub, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
On one video, a police officer can be heard stuttering as he tells another officer: “They want guys to t-t-take bodies; there’s bodies everywhere.”
He then says: “They’re just throwing them in back of that pickup truck…how many have you got over there?”
The other officer responds: “Four.”
“F***, man,” comes the horrified reply.
At 2:45am, less than an hour after mass-murdering terrorist Omar Mateen started his rampage, one of the videos shows police officer Jon-Paul Gargano running to his car to fetch paper towels.
At the same time, Mateen was calling News 13 Orlando to take responsibility for the attack and claim it was on behalf of so-called Islamic State.
As the Belle Isle officer unlocks the car, a woman sitting on the side of the road asks him: “Y’all gonna f***ing shoot his ass?”
“We can’t, ma’am,” he replied.
“What do you mean, you can’t?” came the outraged response.
“We can’t; there’s more victims in there. We start to shoot, we might shoot other people,” Gargano said, running back to his post in front of the club.
“F***ing go in there and shoot his ass, man,” she called after him.
Another video shows fellow Belle Isle officer Brandon Cornwell enter the club through a large, completely broken window and take cover behind a bar as officers yell commands at a bathroom where Mateen had victims cornered.
At 2:17am, an officer screams and a series of gunshots ring out.
Officers fire at Mateen, but do not hit him.
A couple of minutes later, an officer yells: “You, in the bathroom, let me see your hands now.
“Come out with your hands up, or you will die.”
At this time, Cornwell says a prayer to himself.
“Lord Jesus, watch over me,” he can be heard muttering.
Later, during another conversation captured on video, he tells an officer: “I couldn’t see the guy.
“He came out of the left bathroom and we were stacked up, and the guys that were up front just started shooting right at him.
“And he went back into the bathroom.
“As soon as he came out, I saw like a dark-colored shirt…and about that time they started firing at him, but I couldn’t open up on him.”
Other videos show officers helping victims to escape, often after telling them to put their hands above their head and frisking them in case they were a shooter.
The difficulties which came from having to treat everyone exiting the club as a potential terrorist are visible in the way officers quickly switch from aggressively yelling at victims to reassuring them.
Orlando officer Graham Cage’s body cam captured one such scene, as a fellow officer cautiously leads a victim out of a bathroom and down a hallway to eventual safety.
“Hands up, both hands, put your hands up,” the officer says.
“Follow the sound of my voice. Come this way. Show me your f***ing hands!
“I need you to crawl this way. … Follow my light.”
The panic which sprung from false reports of a second shooter at a local hospital, the Orlando Regional Medical Centre, is also on full display in the videos.
Footage from Orlando officer Matthew Davis shows officers sweeping the hospital for what one of them calls a “bad guy.”
With his gun drawn, Davis and the other officers follow a trail of blood downstairs to the basement and back up to the first floor, but find nothing.
“Does anybody know where this blood is going?” someone asks.
One of the hospital staff tells them that a bleeding patient was taken to a room on the sixth floor and describes them.
After the officers check and don’t find him, they leave the room – only to immediately spot a man who fits the description they were given.
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“You, here, down the hall,” an officer shouts, as the man ducks into a room. “Hey, hey, hey, where are you at? Come here! Let me see your hands!”
Off-camera, the man cries: “I’m shot.”
“I don’t care, f***ing crawl to me right now,” the officer shouts back.
“ … Crawl to me right now … Crawl out! Crawl out! Crawl out now!”
The man is then shown on the ground, handcuffed, with his left foot shot.
It’s then determined that he is indeed a patient, and he’s taken away by hospital staff.
“We’ll obviously get him treated and everything,” Davis says.
“But we’re gonna keep someone with him until we can figure out who he is.”