Officer pulls people to safety during Orlando nightclub shooting
A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday, killing 50 people and wounding 53 more before he was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members. It's the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Authorities have identified the shooter as 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Fort Pierce, Florida.
In a 911 call from the club, Mateen professed allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
When Mateen started shooting inside Pulse nightclub, News4Jax learned, people inside the club kicked out the window AC units and others dodged bullets to break out of back doors.
Mateen was still shooting when first responders arrived at Pulse nightclub. Some of the officers returned fire, while others took cover and tried to save the wounded.
"There were shots being fired. He was with a Seminole County deputy at the time," Eastonville Police Chief Joseph Jenkins said.
Jenkins said Officer Omar Delgado was one of the first to arrive at Pulse, while the shooter Mateen was holding people hostage. In the midst of the gunfire, along with a Seminole County deputy, Delgado looked for people, who had been shot and were still alive.
"A lot of gunfire and gory, something you would never want to see something like out of an army movie or something," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he’s not sure how many people Delgado was able to pull to safety, but he says the first responder's instinct was to protect, while the SWAT team went after the active shooter. Jenkins said identifying all the victims and processing the crime scene is an enormous task.
"This is an investigative nightmare. You have the scene, the forensics, the photography, the mindset of this person," Jenkins said.
Delgado and nearly a dozen other first responders have been relieved of their duties pending an investigation, which is standard. What is not normal is the number of injured victims the officers saw. The officers are all being offered counseling.
Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.