“Nearly half of those killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting died where they were dancing without a chance to react or run for help,” orlandosentinel.com reports. “Thirteen died in the bathrooms waiting for help during the three-hour hostage situation.”
That’s the paper’s take-away from a 78-page report Orlando Police Chief John Mina presents to police groups, explaining/exploiting his department’s response to the June 12 terrorist attack. Although, for some reason, the Florida news org refrains from calling it that.
And while we’re at it, I reckon few of the Pulse nightclub victims died “while they were dancing.” I’m sure most of them died running for their lives from an armed terrorist. Or frozen in fear as bullets tore into their bodies.
Equally, I’d like The Sentinel to reveal exactly how Chief Mina spins his lack of leadership. The analysis paralysis that led to a three-hour “standoff,” during which at least 13 people died.
Click here to see the official timeline, complete with audio, video and diagrams. According to the account, Mateen was holed-up in the nightclub’s bathroom, unopposed, from 2:05 am to 5:02 am. Here’s the Sentinel’s summary of Chief Mina’s mea culpa, his rationale for the deadly delay.
The department has consistently said it did not go in until then for fear that hostages would be harmed. Mina made the decision after Mateen said he strapped bombs to people in the four corners of the club. The timeline says Mateen told police at 2:48 a.m. that he was wearing a bomb vest and “had a vehicle in the parking lot with enough explosives to take out city blocks.”
No explosives were found in the club.
No further explanation for police inaction is found in the The Sentinel’s retelling of the Chief’s account. But we get this description of what finally got the cops into gear, at 5:02 am . . .
Mina says [terrorist Omar] Mateen told a negotiator that he was going to put four hostages in explosive vests, and had a vest for himself as well. Officers, fearing imminent loss of life, decide to force their way through the restroom walls.
If Chief Mina — not “officers” — thought the possibility of explosions was reason enough to [finally] mount an assault on Mateen’s position at 5:02 am, why wasn’t it sufficient motivation when Mateen first made the threat at 2:52 am?
According to official records that’s when “Deputies note that they have received word from Orlando police that the shooter is possibly ‘wearing a bomb’ and that there might be an explosive in a car in the parking lot.”
Even if the Orlando Police had entered the Pulse nightclub at that moment, they would have been making their rescue attempt 20 minutes after the shooting started. A long enough delay for Mateen to kill dozens more victims.
There’s no way around it: the Orland Police Department’s response to the Pulse nightclub attack was woefully, tragically inadequate.
The off-duty officer in the Pulse nightclub failed to stop the killing. He left the club knowing there was a single shooter actively murdering patrons, and failed to re-engage the terrorist. The responding on-duty police officers — one of whom took a bullet to his helmet — also failed to take out the terrorist, and then failed to pursue him and eliminate the threat. Chief Mina failed to mount a timely rescue mission.
The main “lesson” Chief Mina should have learned is the exact same one learned at Columbine High School in 1999 (and spread throughout the law enforcement community): attack a spree killer at the first opportunity. Do NOT wait to set-up a perimeter or back-up.
Chief Mina shouldn’t be touring the world touting his experience during the Pulse nightclub slaughter. He should be relieved of his command and replaced with someone capable of responding efficiently and appropriately to a public safety emergency. Someone who can select and training officers to do the same.