Audio of Omar Mateen’s 911 calls during Pulse massacre released
The man on the phone said he was the person who had just opened fire June 12 inside Pulse nightclub, but Orlando police could not be sure.
The caller, later identified as Omar Mateen, repeatedly hung up on the Orlando police negotiator who had to call him back more than a dozen times.
From about 3:15 a.m. to about 3:20 a.m., officers could be heard in the background trying to pinpoint where Mateen might be. The background noise was “sterile,” said one officer, as if he were in an office. Or a bathroom, said another.
“I’m still not convinced this guy’s in there,” the negotiator said as Mateen’s phone rang. Law enforcement officers were going to Mateen’s address in Fort Pierce to check whether he was home, and Orlando police pinged his cellphone to establish his location.
Despite his misgivings, the negotiator, who identified himself as Andy, treated Mateen seriously when they talked.
He spoke calmly but with a sense of urgency as he tried to pry information from Mateen: where in the club he was, whether there were injured people with him, whether he had explosives or accomplices, what would get him to surrender.
The nearly 30 minutes of audio of Omar Mateen’s 911 calls were released Monday. The written transcripts of the calls were made public in September.
The attack on the LGBTQ nightclub left 49 people dead and at least 68 injured. Orlando police and Orange County deputies killed Mateen during a shootout just after 5 a.m.
Mateen was the one who first made contact with police, calling 911 and pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State. He recited part of a prayer in Arabic before telling the dispatcher in English that he “did the shooting.”
Throughout the calls, Mateen repeatedly said he committed the attack to “stop the U.S. airstrikes” on Iraq and Syria.
“They’re killing a lot of innocent people,” Mateen said, sounding nervous. “So what am I to do here, when my people are getting killed over there? You get what I’m saying?”
The negotiator asked him whether he had done something about that.
“Yes, I have,” Mateen said.
“Tell me what you did? Please?” the negotiator said.
“No, you already know what I did,” Mateen replied, sounding impatient.
Mateen spoke with the negotiator for only a few minutes at a time, then hung up.
About 3:10 a.m. the negotiator began calling Mateen back. On the sixth attempt, he picked up. He was calm but terse, uncooperative and at times condescending, calling the negotiator “homeboy.”
At one point, when the negotiator pressed him for a list of grievances, Mateen said, “No, no, no, no, no, Mr. Hostage Negotiator, no. Don’t play no [expletive] games with me.”
When the negotiator tried to get him to say whether he had an accomplice with him in the club, Mateen answered, “It’s none of your business.”
That phone call lasted about six minutes, but Mateen went silent a few minutes before it ended.
Police reached Mateen again just before 3:25 a.m.
“You’re annoying me with these phone calls, and I don’t really appreciate it,” Mateen said.
“Well, I understand that, but the fact that you appreciate it or not doesn’t matter at this point,” the negotiator said. “We need to talk, and we need to stay in open communication.”
Mateen told the negotiator not to “talk to me like that.”
The negotiator said he had been passing along the message about the airstrikes but suggested that Mateen come outside unarmed and tell the police himself. Mateen hung up and did not pick up his phone again.
Orange Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber on Monday ordered the city of Orlando to immediately release audio of the calls that Mateen made to 911 and received from police that night. Attorneys for two dozen media companies, including the Orlando Sentinel, have pushed for the release of all 911 calls related to the massacre that night.
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