Details are emerging about the Orlando Pulse Massacre. It is clear that some of the first impressions were false.
First, there was not any initial exchange of fire inside of the club. Officers did not fire at the murderer in the club, or he at them, until the last few minutes, three hours later, when SWAT officers broke into the bathrooms through a wall.
There was an initial exchange of gunfire, but it was outside of the club. The off duty police officer/security officer quickly disengaged as the murderer entered the club while firing. It is precisely the scenario that John Lott has often predicted. If a security officer is known, a person planning a mass killing will determine a way to take them out with a surprise attack, find a way to bypass them, or avoid them.
Second, there was some time from the initial shooting until police mounted an armed response. The police response was very quick. Additional officers arrived at the scene, formed up, broke out a large window, and went in. But it still took time. It appears about six minutes passed from the initial shots until the police entered the Pulse club. During that period, the murderer was shooting and killing people inside the club. The shooting continued as the police entered.
Once in the club, the officers could not locate the murderer. They were uncertain how many there might be. They continued to hear shots, and determined that the shooter was in the bathroom area. They did not shoot at the murderer. It does not appear that he fired at them; and it does not seem that they “drove him into the bathroom area”.
Then they were ordered to wait for the SWAT team. It took about 15-20 minutes for SWAT to get there. We do not know if more shots were fired during that period.
Here is the timeline put together by the Daily Mail. From dailymail.co.uk:
2:02am – Sunday, June 12 – Suspect Omar Mateen tries to enter Pulse nightclub armed with assault rifle and and handgun and is spotted by a security guard.The two exchange fire outside the club – but Mateen manages to enter the nightclub, holding 320 people, while still firing.First 911 call received by Orlando Police Department.2:04am – First police officers, including Brandon Cornwell, arrive at the scene.2:08am – FBI says officers entered the club and ‘engaged’ the shooter.2:09am – Pulse nightclub posts a message to their Facebook desperately telling those inside ‘Everyone get out of pulse and keep running’.2:35am – Mateen calls 911 and pledges allegiance to ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.4:21am – Police rip out an air conditioning unit, creating a hole through which some people escape.4:29am – Rescued victims tell police the shooter said he was going to put four vests with bombs on hostages within 15 minutes.5.02am – Three hours after the first shooting began, a SWAT team use armored vehicle and explosives to breach the bathroom wall. SWAT officers manage to free 30 hostages who dashed to safety.5:15am – The shooter is shot at and is confirmed as being ‘down’.8:00am – Officials with the FBI deem the incident to be ‘domestic terrorism’.
Here is an account by Officer Brandon Cornwell. He is the only officer who went inside the club to give a public comment so far. From washingtonpost.com:
ORLANDO — After an initial burst of fire between Omar Mateen and a security guard at the Pulse nightclub, a group of five or six police officers arrived on the scene within minutes, broke through a large glass window and entered the club as the killing of 49 people was underway inside, according to a Belle Isle, Fla., police officer who was among the first responders.
Officer Brandon Cornwell, 25, said the ad-hoc team spent the first seconds in the dimly lit club “trying to locate exactly where the shooter was — we kept hearing people scream and shots fired.”
He and the other officers followed the sounds to the bathroom area, where Mateen was now holed up. But instead of entering the bathroom, the officers aimed their assault rifles toward the area and were told by commanders to hold their position as the sounds of gunfire stopped, according to Cornwell. And so they waited “15 or 20 minutes — could’ve been longer” — until the SWAT team arrived, he said. Cornwell never saw Mateen.
This is worth noting in discussing the massacre. Those opposed to armed self defense have claimed that security confronted the shooter inside the club, but it made no difference, as they were unable to stop him. What seems likely, with Cornwell’s report, is that no armed person confronted the shooter in the club until the SWAT team ultimately broke in through that wall.
The shooter was ready to engage the security at the entrance of the club, and was able to shoot his way in. It would be several minutes later before armed police entered the Pulse.
If any of the patrons inside the club had been armed, there appear to have been many opportunities when the shooter could have been engaged and the death toll reduced.
All of the details and timing will eventually be made public. The time of every gun shot is likely to be analyzed. The multiple communications, 911 calls and police response insure that a record of the situation can be put together, but it will take time to decipher it. Numerous survivors should be interviewed and their stories added to the mix.
In order to fight these sort of incidents, it’s important to understand how they actually happen. Six minutes is a long time for a person with a defensive pistol to draw it, identify the threat, and engage.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.