Police release footage of Pulse nightclub shooting aftermath
Videos show officers going inside where gunman Omar Mateen had barricaded himself in a bathroom, while others offer details about what was happening outside
By Christal Hayes, David Harris and Gal Tziperman Lotan
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orange County Sheriff's Office on Thursday released hours of body camera footage from deputies who responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting.
About two dozen videos show law enforcement responding to the club in Orlando on June 12. Some show officers going inside where gunman Omar Mateen had barricaded himself in a bathroom, while others offer details about what was happening outside.
In one video, law enforcement officers were in the process of clearing the entrances and making sure nobody was getting into the club. The deputy in the video was stationed at one entrance, rifle drawn, waiting for orders.
Then a cellphone started ringing.
"Is that yours?" the deputy asked someone next to him. "It's not mine."
The phone kept ringing. The deputy peeked behind a Coca-Cola-branded refrigerator into what looked like a well-lit kitchen. The ringing got louder, but he couldn't see the phone. The ringing stopped, and the deputy got back into position.
The same ringtone can be heard two more times. After about 20 minutes, the deputy got an order to back away from the club and left his post.
Another redacted video shows deputies clearing a bathroom. One law officer has a gun aimed into the room. As he's standing guard near an exit door, his body camera shows a table with cups and a beer bottle. Disco lights still illuminate the dance floor, creating colorful flowers on the walls.
In one video, a deputy is preparing stretchers near the side of the club where a SWAT team blasted several holes through the building to rescue trapped victims. As he and other law officers approach the club, several club-goers start coming out of the building.
Then chaos erupts and he and others run from the building, looking for cover.
Several minutes of the footage then goes black. When the video comes back, several large holes are seen on the side of the building. The deputy appears panicked and asks other law officers what happened and whether anyone was rescued.
"Did they clear everyone out?" he asks. "They clear everyone out? Hold up, what's going on?... No way everyone is dead in there."
Other officers said victims were still inside, but it was unclear whether any were alive.
Another video, which is redacted and has only audio, a deputy says he was scared after hearing the slew of shots erupt.
"Those shots sounded so damn close when we were standing here," the officer said. "This guy came prepared."
Another redacted video shows deputies lined up in the doorway of the club wearing blue hospital gloves.
"I'm just hoping to God my buddy Nick wasn't in here," one deputy says.
In the background, a dispatcher is heard over the radio calling out the number of victims still trapped inside the bathrooms and dressing rooms.
"What kind of [expletive] up person would do this?" the deputy asks.
About 5 a.m., deputies move from parking lot to parking lot, positioning gurneys and searching people for possible bombs as they flee.
More than a dozen officers move closer to the club then fall back when told it's not safe.
At one point, a voice tells them, "No shooting. No shooting."
Several minutes later, a law officer tells the others, "A SWAT guy took one in the helmet," a reference to Orlando Officer Brian Napolitano, who suffered a minor injury from a bullet fired by Mateen.
"When they breached, he took one round," the unidentified officer said.
Shortly afterward, there's an announcement that the gunman is down. A deputy said four people were found in one bathroom and nine in another. It was not clear whether they were alive or dead.
The videos are the latest public records released in the aftermath of the shooting, which left 49 people dead and at least 68 injured.
Also on Thursday, a judge ruled that the city of Orlando should release many of the 911 calls made during the shooting. Some will be released in audio form and the rest will be released as transcripts next week, city officials said.
Staff writers Stephen Hudak, Susan Jacobson and Rene Stutzman contributed to this report.