Florida

The calls for help from Pulse came by phone, text, FaceTime and social media

The Orange County Sheriff on Tuesday released the first batch of 911 calls it received June 12 about the shooting rampage at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Here, an injured person is escorted out of the nightclub.
The Orange County Sheriff on Tuesday released the first batch of 911 calls it received June 12 about the shooting rampage at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Here, an injured person is escorted out of the nightclub. AP

The first 911 calls from Pulse show panic and confusion but answer few questions about the night a lone shooter killed 49 and injured 53 at an Orlando nightclub.

The 20 calls released Tuesday came from the Orange County Sheriff. The Miami Herald, along with 25 other news organizations, is suing the city of Orlando for the release of its calls. Orlando’s records include the four-time the shooter, Omar Mateen, calling police, along with the 603 other calls made to the city’s police and fire departments on June 12.

This first batch of Orange County’s calls were from neighbors, club-goers trapped inside and friends calling on behalf of the people inside Pulse.

By 2:03 a.m., neighbors who heard gunshots were reporting that Orlando Police Department officers were already on scene.

One witness, a young man, told the operator that he was leaving the club when he heard gunshots.

“As soon as we heard that, we ran,” he said. “As soon as we left, gunshots were just going like crazy.”

Then came the calls from family and friends, trying to get help for their loved ones inside the club. They heard from social media, texts, calls and FaceTime.

Two friends told the operator that their friend had texted them. He said he was shot three times and hiding in the bathroom.

“There’s been a shooter. There’s a lot of people dead,” a woman said. Her brother couldn’t talk on the phone, she said, he could only call.

Operators logged the flood of information — some of it contradictory — and reassured callers that first responders were doing everything they could.

“We have a lot of deputies there,” an operator told a panicked victim’s brother. “We’re trying to keep everybody safe.”

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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