Patrons trapped in an Orlando nightclub as a gunman carried out the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history begged 911 operators to send help in audio recordings released Wednesday.
The 150 or so calls were the last batch of recordings made public by the city after a court fight with media companies, and they capture patrons desperately waiting for first responders to help them. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others were seriously injured during the massacre.
“Please help us. It has been an hour,” whispers a 23-year-old man trapped in a dressing room with three others at the Pulse nightclub.
The operators repeatedly tell the trapped patrons that help is on the way but that there are a lot of people to rescue in the club, as well as many hiding places.
Even though an off-duty officer was working at the Pulse nightclub and other officers responded within minutes, the standoff with gunman Omar Mateen lasted more than three hours. During that time, patrons told 911 operators that the conditions of the wounded were getting worse.
“We have four people who are deceased. Two people are shot who are getting worse. Please come here,” says a woman trapped in a bathroom almost three hours after the shooting began. “Everyone is getting worse. Where are they? Someone needs to come in here. I don’t know what else I can do!”
When the man in the dressing room repeatedly tells the operator that the club has a back entrance officers should use, the operator asks him if he can get to it. The man says, “Yes, but I can’t go. … I’m scared.”
After almost an hour of talking to the 911 operator, he asks if the call is being recorded and then says, “I want my family to know that I love them.”
The 911 operator tells him, “We are doing our best to get you to your family.”
A short time later, the man says “Oh, my God” over again, and voices in the background can be heard saying, “Up, up, up, up.” After several moments, and more than an hour and a half after the standoff started, the man says to the operator, “Sir, the cops got us out. Thank you so much. I appreciate everything.”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.