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Orlando SWAT Captain Answers Criticism of Team’s Response to Nightclub Massacre

June 20, 2016  | 

The question has been asked by many in the days following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history as to why it took Orlando Police three hours to neutralize terrorist Omar Mateen.

Mateen launched his attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., around 2 a.m. Sunday, yet the ordeal didn’t end until three hours later. 

Police say that during those three hours, they were rescuing clubgoers and employees and trying to assess whether the gunman’s boasts — he claimed to have an explosive vest — were real. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the commander of the Orlando Police Department SWAT team described the challenges his officers faced and how they made key decisions that morning.

“Officers were running inside and grabbing people and throwing them in pickup trucks” to be taken to hospitals, said Capt. Mark Canty of the SWAT team. “There was never a time we were sitting there twiddling our thumbs. My guys were doing things from the beginning. We weren’t just sitting idly by. We were doing what we needed to do to save lives.”


Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

William Schield @ 6/20/2016 3:24 PM

No one, and I do mean no one that was not on scene that night has any business criticizing the Orlando PD and their response. The officers on scene are the only ones who know what it was to be there, the particulars of the situation as they were transpiring and the carnage that had taken place. Capt. Canty has no need to explain to anyone, other than his own first responders, what he did or why he did it. He was the boss on the ground and he made the calls the way he saw fit.
If your department has a response plan in place for a situation like this, I would recommend that you practice it on a regular basis. If your department doesn't have a plan in place, I would recommend that you create one asap. But don't criticize the brave men and women who responded to that scene and did their very best in an effort to save as many lives as possible. Finally, remember this...No plan, no matter how well thought out and designed, survives first contact. End of rant.

Ron Martinelli @ 6/20/2016 4:21 PM

Bill Schield is 100% right here. One of my consultants was one of the first officers on-scene at the San Bernardino terrorist attack. I spoke to him at length about it. He said that nothing you plan for on the municipal level could have prepared them for what they encountered that day. Now that the 9-1-1 and negotiation transcripts are being released today, you also see where Mateen had warned that he had bombs in his van he was going to set off and a suicide vest. Those Orlando SWAT cops were heroes in my book. Enuf said.

DrRon Martinelli, Forensic Criminologist/Police Expert
POLICE Magazine Columnist

John retired IA PD @ 6/20/2016 8:55 PM

From media reports sounds like the situation transitioned from an active shooter to a hostage situation. These two events are handled completely different from one another. Then the suspect calls police and tells them that he has bombs. These are extremely fluid situation. In the midst of all this LEO's were getting people out of the area. Sounds like LE did their job.

kevcopAz @ 6/21/2016 7:14 AM

F the media, F the critics, these are the exact same folks who A) never have the guts to be a cop, let alone a SWAT officer & B) the same ones who would be all over us and arm chair quarter backing us if the team had rushed in without a plan and the crazy inside had a bomb vest and blew up the cops and the other victims! Granted we know active shooter calls are handled differently then hostage calls, but thats a case by case decision and Im sure that these officers as highly trained as I know they are, made the right decision based upon the facts as they knew them at the time. The world is not perfect, everything can't always work out even with the "perfect" plan. So once again, consider the source and F the media and F the critics. Like the famous Jack Nicholson line in A Few Good Men, I say to them "pick up a rifle and stand your post" if you think you can do a better job, otherwise shut the hell up.

Gmapopo @ 6/21/2016 1:51 PM

Wth. This isn't the time for anyone to criticize the responding personnel. What is there to explain? As chaotic as that scene was I can't imagine what it was like to be there and I am a homicide detective. Those that responded took action-transported, directed traffic, took statements etc however handled the situation. Focus on the bravery and dedication instead of trying to find fault in their actions.

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