In a call to 911 dispatchers during his brutal attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Omar Mateen told authorities he was the shooter.
Mateen, who was shot and killed by police, killed 49 people and injured 53 others during his attack on the gay club. In the 911 call, the shooter pledges allegiance to ISIS and other terrorist actors. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday the transcripts would not include Mateen’s references to ISIS, but in the wake of intense scrutiny on Monday, the FBI and Department of Justice released an unedited version of the transcript to the public. “As much of this information had been previously reported, we have re-issued the complete transcript to include these references in order to provide the highest level of transparency possible under the circumstances,” the Department of Justice and FBI said in a statement.
According to the FBI, the first call Mateen made to police went as follows:
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD: What’s your name?
OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
OD: Ok, What’s your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
“Chilling, calm, and deliberate” is how FBI’s Ron Hopper described the killer’s voice during the phone call. Though the FBI released the transcript and the timeline of the shooters engagements with police, the FBI said releasing audio could be traumatizing to the victims. “To expose that now would be excruciatingly painful to exploit them in this way,” Hopper said.
Officers appeared defensive of their actions during the press conference, saying that they’d received a lot of criticism over the fact that the initial attack started at around 2 a.m. but did not conclude until around three hours later. During a call to responders, Mateen said, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.”
The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida said the transcripts were being released so that the public could have a better idea of the timeline during the early morning of June 12 and to have a better idea of what the responding officers were dealing with when they responded. The U.S. attorney said the actions of law enforcement “should not be second-guessed” during the press conference, likely in response to questions as to why officers didn’t respond to the shootout more quickly.
“Lives were saved during their historic work,” Lee Bentley, the U.S. attorney, said.
The officers first entered Pulse for what was then an active-shooter situation, officers said. After the shooter retreated to a bathroom, however, the scene became a hostage situation. Police said there was about a three-hour lag between the active-shooter situation and the end of the hostage engagement.
“During that three hours there was no gunfire,” Orlando police chief John Mina said. During those three hours, he said, officers were entering and exiting the club and rescuing victims.
The investigation into the attack is still ongoing. Hopper, the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the investigation, said it could take “months or even years” to complete. Hopper said investigators had completed about 500 interviews and recovered 600 pieces of evidence from the scene. Law enforcement expects all of the crime-scene evidence will be processed soon and the area could be returned to the public early this week.
The FBI said the transcripts were redacted to curb any influence Mateen’s actions could have on future attacks, even though the details of the case and what the shooter said have been widely reported.