The gunman who slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida threatened to blow up a car rigged with bombs and to strap hostages into explosive vests, according to partial transcripts of 911 calls he made.
“You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid”, Omar Mateen said during one of the calls made from the Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando, according to the transcript released by the FBI.
No explosive vests or bombs were found in the nightclub or the suspect’s car, however, the agency said.
The first call came more than a half hour after shots rang out, when Mateen told a 911 operator, “Praise be to god, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of god”, he told the dispatcher, referring to god in Arabic.
“I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings,” he said.
Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, paused several times during the three-hour siege at the club to speak by phone with emergency dispatchers and police negotiators, as well as to post internet messages pledging allegiance to Islamist militant groups.
“While the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner,” said Ron Hopper, a FBI assistant special agent in charge.
Mateen told an emergency dispatcher he was wearing an explosive vest like the kind they “used in France”, apparently referring to the assault in Paris last November by Islamic militants, according to the transcript.
As patrons fled the club, they told police outside that the gunman said he was going to put four vests with bombs on victims within 15 minutes, the FBI said in its statement.
Mateen, a New York-born US citizen and Florida resident of Afghan descent, who has been described by US officials as “self-radicalised” in his extremist sympathies.
The partial transcripts did not include a pledge of loyalty that authorities say Mateen made to IS’s leader.
Hopper told a news conference near the nightclub that only partial transcripts were released so as not to “propagate violent rhetoric”.
US House Speaker Paul Ryan accused the Obama administration of censoring references to the IS militant group and called for the full transcripts to be released.
Mateen identified himself as an “Islamic soldier,” according to the FBI, and he told a negotiator to tell the United States to stop bombing Syria and Iraq.
The Joint Terrorism Taskforce has conducted more than 500 interviews about the massacre, Hopper said, and has processed 600 pieces of evidence.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the initial engagement by authorities caused the gunman to retreat and barricade himself in a bathroom with hostages.
He said officers were inside the club saving victims during the three-hour standoff.
Trump defying the law, says NRA
Donald Trump is backtracking from his contention that victims of the Orlando massacre should have been allowed to carry arms into the nightclub where they were attacked — a stance even the NRA says is untenable.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee tweeted he was “obviously talking about additional guards or employees” of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub where Omar Mateen murdered 29 people when he spoke about the value of having more people armed to challenge the gunman.
That’s not what Trump said previously.
A day after the attack, he told radio host Howie Carr: “It’s too bad that some of the young people that were killed over the weekend didn’t have guns, you know, attached to their hips, frankly, and you know where bullets could have flown in the opposite direction, Howie.
“It would have been a much different deal. I mean, it sounded like there were no guns.
“They had a security guard. Other than that there were no guns in the room. Had people been able to fire back, it would have been a much different outcome.”
Trump had repeated his suggestion at rallies across the country last week. In Atlanta he said the carnage would have been lessened if “some of those great people that were in that club that night had guns strapped to their waist or strapped to their ankle.”
His statements were a step too far for the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby for armed self-defence and broad permissions to carry weapons.
“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms,” the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “That defies common sense. It also defies the law.”
It was the latest scuffle between Trump and those supporting him in the political establishment. Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, had achieved a fragile peace with Republicans and their allies om which they support him in exchange for Trump uniting the Republican party and fighting his likely general election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Instead, his proposals for fighting terrorism — such as by targeting Muslims and restricting assault-style weapons — have inflamed his supporters.
The NRA dustup came at an especially sensitive time.
The Senate prepared to vote on expanded gun background checks and proposals to keep people on a government terrorism watchlist or other suspected terrorists from buying guns. However, prospects for any significant change in gun laws were dim.
Meanwhile Trump said the United States should consider more racial profiling, in response to a question about whether he supported greater law enforcement scrutiny of Muslim Americans after the Orlando shootings.