When Omar Mateen finished pumping bullets into dozens of people sprawled on the dance floor in the Pulse nightclub on June 12, he walked toward the bathrooms, where many patrons had hidden. Among the 10 officers who soon went into Pulse, some had powerful military-style rifles and one had a shield. At least two had tactical experience, the Washington Post reports. Police fired at Mateen when he popped his head out of one of the bathrooms. The shooter was outgunned and outnumbered. Then, police decided not to pursue him. A review of what happened raises questions about how police responded to what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the Post says.
The decision not to follow Mateen into the bathroom proved critical. During the final standoff, Mateen apparently shot more people. At least five people who were alive in the bathrooms when the standoff began ultimately died at the club. “They took too damn long for me,” said Tiara Parker, 21, who was inside the bathroom. “If they had moved faster, they would have gotten us out of there and everybody could have possibly lived.” In an interview, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said police did not pursue Mateen immediately because he stopped shooting after he entered the bathroom and he had hostages. “He went from an active shooter to a barricaded gunman,” Mina said. “If he had continued shooting, our officers would have went in there.”