After a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Florida this month, police dispatchers fielded calls from people inside who screamed of being shot, begged for help and spoke in hushed voices of the bloody scene around them.
The 911 operators’ notes, made public on Tuesday, are part of an Orlando Police Department incident narrative that began at 2.02 am on June 12 with two words: “Shots fired.”
Over the next three hours, operators recorded hearing people screaming and multiple shots fired as Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
There were also periods of eerie silence.
“My caller is no longer responding, just an open line with moaning,” an operator wrote at 2.09 am.
The calls came from Pulse nightclub’s bathrooms, attic, dressing room and office. People reported being shot in the arm, shoulder, leg, chest, stomach, according to the police log.
One victim shot in the leg and rib was said to be “losing a lot of blood.”
Another note described someone in a bathroom whispering, “Please help”.
Nearly an hour into the rampage, a caller to the police emergency number told a dispatcher that Mateen was saying he was a terrorist and claimed to have bombs strapped to his body, according to the notes.
The claim that he had bombs turned out to be false, but it convinced police to breach the rear wall of the bathrooms and confront the gunman.
At 5.15 am, the incident log included another two-word note: “Subject down.”
The city of Orlando has not released audio recordings of the 911 calls or any video recorded by police cameras at the shooting scene. Several media organizations filed a lawsuit last week to force the release of that information.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a partial transcript of a 911 call made by Mateen from the club, and brief summaries of three other calls made by the gunman.