The “good guys with guns” arrived 38 seconds after the start of the Orlando Shooting, but it didn’t matter to victims wounded and dying, because none of them wanted to risk their lives to save anyone in the Pulse Nightclub.
Police stood down quickly, then stormed the building three hours later.
Getting the go ahead to act only after they finally suited up in tactical gear–three hours later.
Meanwhile, people inside Pulse were being slaughtered.
As the ashes settle, witnesses from the massacre inside the Orlando nightclub suggest that perhaps a Lieutenant Commander who told his cops to stand down in the recent massacre–the worst American mass shooting in the 21st century–cost several people their lives.
Belle Isle police officer Brandon Corwell was the first officer on the scene.
“Some ran towards the building; some stayed back with people running out,” the small town officer, whose city of 6,000 sits in the middle of the larger city of Orlando told reporters, “There was tons of people running out of the club. I grabbed my assault rifle and ran toward the club. At this point, the shooter is still actively shooting inside.”
He arrived 38 seconds after the shooting began and ran to find the shooter.
But the young officer was told by brass to stand down, to wait on the SWAT Team’s arrival, because he wasn’t in tactical gear.
Then, Officer Cornwell ran to the south side of the building and formed an ad hoc team with several other officers, according to reports.
“There happens to be a Lieutenant Commander who was there, and he says, ‘We’ve got to go in.'” said the 25-year-old Officer Cornwell, “No one disagreed. One of the officers busted out one of those side windows and we just went in and went from there.”
Officer Cornwell told the Washington Post that when officers first arrived they were, “trying to locate exactly where the shooter was. We kept hearing people scream and shots fired.”
The group of police officers followed gunshot sounds to the bathroom area, where Orlando shooter Omar Mateen had holed himself up.
Instead of entering the bathroom, officers aimed their assault rifles in the direction of the bathroom and were then told to hold their position and stand down.
Corwell and others waited 15-20 minutes until SWAT arrived, after the stand down order was given.
“We just basically stayed there, waited for movement, and we just held our position until SWAT got there,” said Officer Cornwell revealing the police command’s major concerns, “Once SWAT got there, they told us to retreat, that they’d take over because we were not really in tactical gear — we were just in our police uniforms.”
It took three more hours for the SWAT team to finally engage Omar Mateen just before 5 a.m, leading to his demise.
Why did Orlando’s finest need so much time?
The FBI stated police first responders “engaged the shooter” inside Pulse at 2:08 a.m., but Cornwell’s version raises questions about why they were told not to engage Mateen in the bathroom and casts doubt whether any SWAT members entered Pulse once the first responders retreated.
Many survivors inside Pulse were trapped for hours, but eventually rescued by police working outside the building. The FBI’s timeline does not discuss any kind of SWAT team movement into the club until 5 a.m., according to The Post.
“I was yelling, ‘Go in there, go in there, my friends are in there,” said club goer Jeannette McCoy, who managed to escape during the first moments, but grew frustrated as she watched first responders gather at the door, but not go inside, “People are bleeding to death.”
Meanwhile, some inside the club suggest police should have acted more quickly to engage Omar Mateen.
Those on-site said that many of those who were wounded, but not yet dead could have been saved.
Surveillance video showing the shooting from inside the club on the night of the massacre shows Omar Mateen shooting people, stopping and then shooting again the people he’d already wounded, said officials who have viewed the evidence.
One anonymous official told the Washington Post, “he [Mateen] was making sure anybody who was shot, was dead.”
Orlando Police Chief John W. Mina said, “there was this misconception that we didn’t do anything for three hours.”
And defended his officers for not engaging the shooter.
Mina claims his officers were working to get people out of the building and engaged in rescue efforts.
“That’s all part of the investigation,” said the Orlando police chief, as he declined to say whether or not his officers inadvertently shot club patrons, “but here’s what I will tell you: Those killings are on the suspect and the suspect alone, in my mind.”
“I feel for the people who were in there and didn’t get the proper help that they needed,” said Dorian Wayne, a who was at Pulse Nightclub that night said, “police could have run in and shot.”
“I will tell you the leadership of the Orlando Police Department failed the people inside the club,” said Chris Grollneck, former-cop and expert on active-shooter situations. He told Politico that police protocol developed after the 1999 Columbine High School Shootings dictates that if two or more cops are on scene, they should go after the shooter.
The Orlando shooting is precisely the unspeakable horror which caused militarization of police in the United States.
But militarization didn’t save any victims‘ lives at Pulse Nightclub.
Because militarized police in Orange County have spent more time on warrantless raids to perform regulatory inspections than actually rescuing hostages, or stopping active shooters on a mass-shooting rampage.
In this tragic incident, brass had police wait for comrades in military gear and one of Orlando’s brand new $230,000 BearCat vehicles before entering Pulse Night Club, several lives might have actually been saved.
As Orlando police waited, more and more people were killed, while they reportedly took their sweet time outfitting themselves in tactical gear.
For three hours.
And dozens of officers paraded around the area afterwards clad in their Universal Machine Pistols and camos after the carnage ended.
What what we do know is that sometime in between the 38 seconds and the three hours it took the SWAT team to eliminate Mateen, dozens of people lost their lives because police took their time putting on tactical gear, and carrying folks out of the building when they could have chosen to eliminate the threat causing people to be carried out.
Instead, they stood down.
And every Orlando cop went home to his family that night.
Not a single officer was killed in the massacre.
And waiting for militarized police to show up did exactly the opposite of what departments have been telling the public it’s for: to protect people; to keep them safe.