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What we still don’t know about the Orlando shooting rampage

Posted on Jun 20, 2016


A little more than a week after the shooting rampage at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub, key details remain unknown about what exactly happened during the violent episode and the hostage standoff that followed.

Even as investigators try to determine what may have motivated the attack that left 49 people dead and dozens more injured, they are still working to piece together exactly what happened during the three hours between the first gunshots and the moment police fatally shot the attacker.

While some elements of the siege became sharper with new details that emerged Monday when the FBI released partial transcripts of police communications with the gunman, other parts remained hazy and uncertain.

Authorities have not said yet if any of those killed or injured at the club were wounded when police officers fired at Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old gunman, something police have said was possible, or when police SWAT teams tore through the walls of the bathrooms where people were hiding.

When police made the decision to go inside at about 5 a.m. to end the standoff, officers assumed there were “badly wounded” people in the club still needing to be rescued, the SWAT commander at Pulse said in an interview Sunday, a week after the shooting.

“The situation is very bad, and we want to save as many people as we can,” Mark Canty, the SWAT commander, recalled in a detailed account of what happened at the club.

While some victims at the club and other observers said they think police should have acted more aggressively, Canty said officers were always acting with victims in mind and that there was “never really a time” they weren’t working to save people.

Canty said these efforts included SWAT operators at one point popping out an air conditioning unit to help free hostages, and said described the situation at Pulse as fluid and dangerous given the gunman who had fired at clubgoers and officers alike before taking hostages and claiming he had explosives.

The FBI is still working to determine if any of the victims at Pulse were hit by police fire, according to a U.S. law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The official said it may take as long as a week, and possibly longer, before authorities are sure.

As part of this effort, agents are reviewing graphic surveillance video from inside Pulse, which the official said clearly shows Mateen gunning down victims. Investigators have said that their evidence response technicians remained at Pulse for days after the shooting to map the crime scene and try to determine precisely how the bullets flew as they analyze the trajectory of the gunfire.

Source: Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky | The Washington Post| June 2o, 2016 at 11:51 AM

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