As he talked on the phone with dispatchers and crisis negotiators from the bathroom of the Pulse nightclub, Orlando gunman Omar Mateen said there was a vehicle outside with explosives and he would “ignite it” if police tried “to do anything stupid,” according to a partial transcript released by the FBI on Monday. He told those on the other end of the phone that he “did the shootings” and he vaguely threatened more attacks.
“In the next few days,” he said, “you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.”
The transcript, even though many parts are shielded from public view, provides the most thorough look yet into precisely what 29-year-old Mateen said to police as he holed up inside a bathroom at Pulse, keeping more than 15 people from fleeing to safety after he had shot others. It shows he spoke of religion and explosives and told negotiators to tell government officials to stop bombing Syria and Iraq.
The investigation into what prompted Mateen to launch an attack on Pulse that left 49 people dead and dozens others wounded before Orlando police SWAT operators moved in and fatally shot him is a little more than a week old, and many questions remain unanswered. Investigators do not yet know, for example, how many club goers might have been wounded by police fire in the chaotic encounter, nor do they know Mateen’s precise motivation for attacking a popular LGBT nightspot.
Law enforcement and other officials have said previously that Mateen pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State one of his calls to police, and he posted messages on Facebook doing the same. But investigators have also explored claims that Mateen had used a dating app for men and had been to Pulse before the shooting, and officials have said they are investigating the crime as one of both terror and hate. There have been no indications that Mateen has direct connections with terror groups overseas, officials have said.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch told CNN on Sunday that Mateen “didn’t get into” his thoughts about gay people during the calls, and indeed, the partial transcript shows no such discussion.
FBI Director James Comey has said previously that there were three different 911 calls involving Mateen. The gunman, he has said, called 911 about a half hour after his rampage began, then hung up the phone. He then called back and spoke briefly to a dispatcher before hanging up again, at which point the dispatcher called back Mateen, the FBI director has said. The dispatcher and Mateen spoke briefly on that last call, Comey has said.
The calls all seem to have come after Mateen twice exchanged gunfire with police officers at Pulse and fled to a bathroom, authorities have said. Orlando police officials have said the gunfire stopped after he entered that bathroom, and negotiations began. All the while, they have said, officers worked to free what hostages they could, including those hiding in dressing rooms.
Some of those trapped in the bathroom with Mateen have described his phone calls previously, and law enforcement officials have also noted other contacts. Mateen exchanged text messages with his wife and had at least one phone call with an acquaintance, law enforcement officials have said. The details of that call and those exchanges, though, are unclear, and the FBI has not said precisely how many calls Mateen made or to whom.
Negotiations ultimately broke down with Mateen around 5 a.m., authorities said, and SWAT officers scrambled to break holes in the walls to the bathroom and free those who were held captive. Mateen eventually came out one of those holes, police have said, where he was shot to death by SWAT officers in a final gun battle.