While most of the country was sleeping early Sunday morning, a terrorist executed one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. at Pulse nightclub, an armed man named Omar Mateen killed 49 patrons and injured 53 others, before being killed when police sieged the club just after 5 a.m.
2 AM — Mateen enters Pulse, gunshots are first heard
The New York Times reports:
“[A]n off-duty officer who had been working at the nightclub responded to shots fired at about 2 a.m., Chief Mina said. Additional officers rushed to the scene, he said, and entered the nightclub where they engaged in a gun battle with Mr. Mateen, forcing him to retreat to a bathroom where officers believed he had four to five hostages. About 15 to 20 people were in another bathroom.”
However, prior to retreating to a bathroom, Mateen began shooting in a crowded area within the club, leaving scores dead and injured.
Several witnesses said they thought the shooting noise was part of the music. One witness said the shots “could have lasted a whole song.”
2:09 AM — The Pulse Facebook page tells patrons to run
2:06 AM - 2:51 AM — One of the hostages communicates with his mother
One of the bathroom hostages, Eddie Justice, begins texting his mother, Mina Justice:
Eddie Justice stops texting his mother at 2:51 a.m., and is later confirmed dead.
Some time between 2:06 and 5 AM: Mateen holds hostages in the bathroom and makes a 911 call
While holding club patrons hostage in the bathroom, Mateen calls 911 and pledges his allegiance to ISIS. A transcript or recording of the call has not been released, but several reports say he also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers. Authorities begin an attempt to negotiate, and said he brought up “bomb vests and explosives.”
According to the Times, that's when authorities decided to use an explosive to open up a wall and get hostages to safety.
As the authorities negotiated, victims are treated outside.
The negotiations lasted “several hours,” and according to authorities, Mateen ceased fire within the club once the negotiations began.
5:05 AM — An explosion is heard
Orlando police use an explosive device to open up a wall to help hostages escape. They fail to fully penetrate it and ram an armored vehicle against the wall to open it up.
Hostages begin escaping from the hole in the wall, and the Orlando Sentinel reports:
“Mateen came out with two firearms – a .223 caliber AR type rifle and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol — started shooting at officers and they fired back. Mateen was killed in the gunfight.”
In the hours following the shooting, President Obama called the attack and “act of terror and hate,” but stopped short of saying that the attack was an act of radical Islamic terrorism.