City Of Orlando Releases Documents From Pulse Shooting
The city of Orlando released hundreds of pages of e-mails, texts and phone records relating to the deadly Pulse night club shooting that killed 49 people and the shooter. 90.7’s Brendan Byrne has been combing through the documents and joins me with the latest.
(Scroll to the bottom to view released documents)
CRYSTAL CHAVEZ: Bring us up to speed – what’s new that we know?
BRENDAN BYRNE: Orlando Fire Department records were releases as well. What stood out was a text message to the Fire Chief Sunday afternoon. In it, the Chief received a text from his Fire Marshall saying there was a picture from code enforcement showing an exit door blocked by a soda machine.
CHAVEZ: Was it blocked the night of the shooting?
BYRNE: That’s unclear. In a statement from the nightclub’s attorney, none of the six exit doors were blocked. The fire department can’t say when the machine was moved to block the entrance. They can say that looking back at previous inspections, there is NOT a pattern of exits being blocked at the establishment. And for a club the size of Pulse, code requires 2 exits. The club had six.
CHAVEZ: Brendan, the released records are also painting a picture of what happened inside the club during the shooting. What can you tell us about that?
BYRNE: One of the documents the city released what’s called an in-progress incident report. This basically spells out communication between law enforcement, dispatchers, and 911 callers – minute by minute, second by second. And it paints a grim picture of what was happening inside the club during the shooting. There are reports of dispatchers hearing screaming, moaning and shots being fired those first few minutes. At 2:18, about 16 minutes after the first shots, the SWAT team was called in.
CHAVEZ: The FBI says they received reports the shooter pledged allegiance to a terrorist organization and had a bomb vest, but the details were slim. Did today’s release shed any more light on that?
BYRNE: Yes. According this incident report, just a little before 3 there are reports of the shooter saying there were explosives in the parking lot. He also said that he had explosives strapped to him. Bomb dogs were dispatched to the scene, but they didn’t arrive for another 45 minutes.
CHAVEZ: So bombs, hostages — Brendan how did this information change the way Orlando Police Chief John Mina approached the situation.
BYRNE: Yes, so it went from an active shooter to a hostage situation. I spoke with Chief Mina this afternoon – he said officers were able to contain the shooter in the bathroom – that made it a hostage situation. But during that time, his officers were able to move injured club-goers from parts of the building like the main dance floor and a dressing room.
CHAVEZ: What else has the city released to the public?
BYRNE: There are hundreds of e-mails and text messages released from Chief John Mina and Mayor Buddy Dyer – but those emails aren’t until late Sunday afternoon and most of Chief Mina’s outgoing text messages seem to be redacted.
CHAVEZ: And why is that?
BYRNE: While all these records fall under Sunshine Laws, there are exemptions to public records requests – in this case an active investigation. In a letter also released today, the FBI is asking that agencies withhold releasing this information while the investigation is active.
CHAVEZ: It seems like there’s a lot of information that was released today – what else is out there?
BYRNE: Well, there’s the actual recordings of the 911 calls. That’s what news organizations want. A number of media groups filed a lawsuit against the City of Orlando to release those tapes. The City counter-sued, asking for guidance from the court. Mayor Dyer wants to get all the information out to the public to maintain transparency and abide by Florida Sunshine Laws – but he also needs to balance want the FBI is asking for while they are investigating the shooting.
CHAVEZ: And when will we know more about that?
BYRNE: There was a preliminary hearing schedule for today, but that case was bumped to a Federal court – we’re still awaiting details on what’s next for that case.
Editors Note: Story updated to reflect statement on the blocked exit from Orlando Fire Department.
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