As the largest mass shooting in U.S. history began to unfold, an off-duty police officer working at a gay nightclub exchanged gunfire with the suspect. Three hours passed before the attack was brought to an end. (June 13) AP
» 2:02 a.m. Shots ring out as a police officer working as a security guard engages in gun battle with assailant Omar Mateen, who was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle, a handgun and an unidentified device.
» 2:06 a.m. Mina Justice was sound asleep when, she told the Associated Press, she got a text from her son, Eddie, from inside the club.
“Mommy I love you,” the message said. “In club they shooting.”
» 2:09 a.m. About seven minutes after the first shot, the Pulse Orlando nightclub's Facebook page zapped out a chilling message: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.”
» 2:17 a.m. @bjoewolf (Brandon Wolf), tweets: “Omg. Shooting at pulse. We hid in the bathroom. And we can’t find our friends.”
» 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Law enforcement and the shooter engage in three-hour standoff, with the assailant holding hostages.
Updates and pleas for help from frightened patrons, many hiding in a restroom, trapped in the club were sent out to police, friends and the world via text messages and social media.
» Around 3 a.m. Orlando Fire Department calls in the bomb squad. SWAT teams were also called in.
» 3:58 a.m. Orlando police, via Twitter, warn public to stay away from the nightclub area.
Law enforcement officials say there was “some communication” with assailant, but would not provide details. “Once the initial shots stopped we were dealing with a hostage situation,” Mina said in a press conference.
» 5 a.m. About three hours after the standoff began, Orlando police chief John Mina says the decision was made to storm the club and “rescue patrons (hiding) in a bathroom” and others still trapped inside the club in an effort to minimize loss of life. The police, Mina said, used a BearCat armored rescue vehicle to “get through a club wall.” Cops also set off a "controlled detonation” around this time to distract the assailant. After the BearCat rammed the club, the shooter opened the club's door, according to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and that's when cops took aim at the shooter.
» 5:53 a.m. About an hour later the Orlando police department confirm via Twitter that the assailant, Mateen, had been killed: “Pulse Shooting: The shooter inside the club is dead.”
Bernard Wilchusky is the Editor-in-Chief of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cameradudeman.