The Latest: Dispatchers heard shots, screams from Pulse

AP News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2016 4:45 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the mass shooting at a gay Orlando nightclub that left 49 people dead (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Orlando police dispatchers heard repeated gunfire, screaming and moaning from patrons of the Pulse nightclub who called to a report that gunman Omar Mateen was opening fire inside the club.

A written report on the 911 calls that came into police dispatchers on June 12 from the gay nightclub was released Tuesday.

The first call of "shots fired" came in at 2:02 a.m. and the caller reported "multiple people down."

One caller said Mateen had gone upstairs where six people were hiding, and another caller said she thought Mateen had run out of bullets.

Dispatchers heard up to 30 gunshots in the background at one point and callers screaming and moaning.

One dispatcher says in the report, "My caller is no longer responding, just an open line with moaning."

Mateen fatally shot 49 patrons and injured another 53 people during the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

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4 p.m.

Lawyers for news media organizations and attorneys for the city of Orlando and the U.S. Department of Justice are fighting over which court should determine whether 911 tapes from the Pulse nightclub shootings can be made public.

A hearing scheduled Tuesday in a Florida court was abruptly canceled after the U.S. Department of Justice was added to the case and Justice officials asked for it to be transferred to federal court.

Attorneys for almost two dozen new media organizations, including The Associated Press, say they are fighting to keep the case in state court.

The media groups contend Orlando officials are wrongly withholding recordings of 911 calls and communications between gunman Omar Mateen and the Orlando Police Department. Mateen was killed by police early June 12 after a shooting at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

City officials claim the recordings are exempt under Florida law and because they're part of an ongoing FBI investigation.

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4 p.m.

An Islamic group says threats and acts of intimidation have been made against Florida mosques since a gunman fatally shot 49 people at an Orlando nightclub two weeks ago.

Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida spokesman Wilfredo A. Ruiz spoke about the threats Tuesday. He said the most recent threat came Sunday, when a motorcycle group repeatedly circled the Fort Pierce mosque that shooter Omar Mateen had attended.

Ruiz said the mosque's leaders have wanted to hire St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies to provide security but have been rejected.

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2:15 p.m.

A lawyer for the owner of Pulse nightclub says a fire department inspection report stating that an exit was blocked in the weeks before the massacre of 49 patrons is untrue.

Attorney Gus Benitez said Tuesday that none of the six exits at the gay nightclub was blocked during the inspection.

Benitez says the inspector only found that a light bulb in an exit sign needed to be replaced and a fire extinguisher needed to be hung on a wall. He says both items were corrected. Fire department spokeswoman Ashley Papagni backed up Benitez's contention in an email Tuesday, but did not respond to a follow-up email seeking further clarification about the inspector's report.

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11:30 a.m.

Emails and texts released by the Orlando Fire Department indicate that one of the exits at the Pulse nightclub was inoperable weeks before the massacre of 49 patrons by a gunman on June 12.

But the records released Tuesday also suggest that the gay nightclub had twice the number of exits needed to accommodate its maximum occupancy of 300 patrons.

An email exchange between Orlando Fire Marshall Tammy Hughes and Fire Chief Roderick Williams says that the last fire inspection was conducted in late May.

A follow-up visit was planned but hadn't yet been assigned so it wasn't known if the problem was fixed.

Hughes says that was within a normal follow-up schedule.

In a text message, Hughes says the club's six exits were enough to handle double the allowable occupancy.

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6:10 a.m.

A preliminary hearing will lay out ground rules for another hearing later this week on the fight between media companies and the city of Orlando over whether 911 calls from the mass shooting at a Florida nightclub can be made public.

Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber is presiding over Tuesday's scheduled hearing involving Orlando officials and nearly two dozen news organizations including The Associated Press, CNN and The New York Times.

The media lawsuit contends city officials are wrongly withholding recordings of 911 calls and communications between gunman Omar Mateen and the Orlando Police Department. Mateen was killed by police early June 12 after a standoff in the shooting at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

City officials claim the recordings are exempt under Florida law.