Arek Sarkissian, Naples (Fla.) Daily News
ORLANDO — Omar Mateen, the killer who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, hid in a bathroom at Pulse, a gay nightclub where he had slaughtered scores of people. A wall of cinder block separated him from a team of police officers outside. For three hours early Sunday morning, crisis negotiators tried to end the siege.
Then Mateen — whom police said had acted “cool and calm” during discussions — talked about killing more people. Alarmed, police placed an explosive device against the wall and detonated it. The breach failed; the hole wasn’t large enough to allow for a successful rescue.
A cop rammed his Bearcat armored vehicle through the club wall. Hostages poured out. So did Mateen, guns blazing.
With quick efficiency, officers shot him dead.
So ended the worst armed massacre in American history: 49 victims were killed and 53 wounded.
Monday, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and other law enforcement officers offered new details about the shooting, including the possibility that some victims may have been killed by officers trying to save them.
“I will say this, that’s all part of the investigation,” Mina said. “But I will say when our SWAT officers, about eight or nine officers, opened fire, the backdrop was a concrete wall, and they were being fired upon.”
A law enforcement source close to the investigation who asked not to be named said a crowd of up to 300 people and the complex layout of the dance club may have resulted in some patrons being struck by gunfire from officers.
Mina said his decision to enter the club with such violence was tough. “It was a hard decision to make, but it was the right decision,” he said. “Our No. 1 priority is on saving lives, and it was the right decision to make.”