Tag Archives: pulse

Orlando to buy Pulse nightclub to create a memorial

The city of Orlando, Florida, has announced plans to purchase the Pulse nightclub and eventually convert the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history into a memorial.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel this week that the city has reached a deal to buy the LGBT nightclub for $2.25 million.

Dyer says the site should probably remain as-is for the next 12 to 18 months, as it has become a gathering place for mourners.

He says the city will reach out to the community for advice on how plans for the memorial should proceed.

The purchase price is $600,000 more than its appraised value.

The June 12 attack left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed by SWAT team members.

Orlando wants to keep Pulse assistance center open

An assistance center for victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre should remain open for several more years, according to Orlando officials.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the city council voted Aug. 29 to pay the Heart of Florida United Way over $123,000 to staff the Orlando United Assistance Center through early November. City officials said they’ll discuss a longer contract that would keep it open for several more years.

Survivors of the shooting can seek grief counseling, rent assistance and other services at the center, which was established in an unused Orange County government building shortly after the June 12 massacre at a packed gay nightclub.

Leydiana Puyarena, who was shot in the leg inside Pulse, said the center connected her with a psychologist and provided about $3,000 for rent and utilities.

“I have my counseling sessions and that’s helping me a lot, but once the (OneOrlando Fund) money is dispersed, I won’t need to ask them for any other help,” she said. “That money is really what is going to help me and the others and allow us to move forward with our lives.”

The OneOrlando Fund is preparing pay-outs later this month for the families of 49 people killed and dozens more people hurt or affected by the massacre.

Puyarena said she was glad the city plans to keep the center open.

“I know a lot of people will still be needing help as time goes on,” she said.

The city turned over management of the assistance center to the Heart of Florida United Way in July, with about $93,000 for about two months’ of services.

“We think that there is still going to be a lot of need for therapy, mental health counseling, support groups, things like that,” said Stephanie Husted, the center’s director.

The newspaper quoted a senior adviser to the city on social services, Lori Pampilo Harris, as saying the center will be needed for “no less than three years.”

From July 11 through Aug. 22, the center scheduled 235 appointments with victim advocates and helped 129 clients with basic needs such as rent, mortgage or car payments, Husted said.

“We want to make sure to really individualize each case and make sure that we’re trying to get them to some type of normalcy, rather than a one-time type of assistance,” she said.

 

 

 

Anti-gay pastor who denounced Orlando victims charged with molestation

A anti-gay Christian pastor who said victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting got “what they deserve” faces charges of molesting a young male member of his congregation.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Ken Adkins, 56, on one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation on Aug. 26. He’s currently being held at the Glynn County Jail.

A special agent told The Florida Times Union that the investigation is focused on molestations that allegedly occurred at Adkins’ church, in a vehicle and at a victim’s home.

On June 16, Adkins tweeted, “Been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!” The tweet has since been removed and Adkins’ Twitter account is now private.

Adkins has a history of anti-gay activism. He opposed expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include LGBT people. Adkins posted crude cartoons on Twitter of people who backed the expansion, including one depicting pro-expansion officials in a bathroom stall.

The anti-gay pastor is also an outspoken supporter of the North Caroline “bathroom bill,” which forces transgender people to use public facilities designated for their birth sex rather than their sexual identity.

Adkins also has a history of public controversies. Last month a Georgia Court rejected Adkin’s latest bankruptcy filing and accused him of perjury in relation to the case.

Still, Adkins holds influence in Jacksonville and south Georgia politics. Florida Politics reported that the city’s chief financial officer tapped the pastor as part of his campaign team when he ran for mayor in 2006. A judicial candidate paid Adkins for consulting his campaign; Adkins and others in his faith community hurled charges of racism at the candidate’s opponent.

The June 12 attack on Pulse nightclub, which served a primarily LGBT clientele, was the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history. Gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 53 before he was shot and killed by local police.

Clinton, Kaine take aim at NRA, with public behind them

“Tim Kaine has a background of steel — just ask the NRA,” said Hillary Clinton in introducing her vice presidential pick in Florida today. It was her first limelight moment since the Republican National Convention, and we’re encouraged that she used part of it to focus on gun control.

The nation desperately needs to hear an honest debate about gun control at the presidential level. Democrats and Republicans are worlds apart on the issue. We got a striking picture of where Republicans stand at their convention in Cleveland, where delegates toted firearms into the Quicken Loans Arena like little kids showing off their toys. The party’s platform not only ignores the nation’s mounting toll of horrific mass shootings, but also reads as if the National Rifle Association wrote it — which might very well be the case.

In addition to Clinton’s remarks today, there was more good news for gun-control advocates. A new Associated Press-GfK poll found support for restrictions on gun ownership now stands at a two-thirds majority — the highest level since the poll started asking the question in 2013, about 10 months after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the new poll, majorities favor nationwide bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets. By a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, respondents to the poll said laws limiting gun ownership do not infringe on the Second Amendment. Strong majorities from both parties said they support background checks for people buying firearms at gun shows and through private sales.

In addition, they back the commonsense banning of gun sales to people on the federal terrorist watch list.

But the poll also found widespread pessimism that elected officials will act. It’s incumbent on Clinton and other Democrats running for office in November to prove the public wrong. They must stand up forcefully and stand down the NRA’s propaganda machine.

The NRA maintains that more guns make people safer, but the opposite is true. The U.S. has more guns per capita than any other nation in the “developed” world and more firearm deaths per capita to show for all those weapons. Americans are 10 times likelier to be killed by firearms than citizens of any other developed nation, according to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Medicine. Yet Americans own virtually one gun for every man, woman and child in the country.

Recent gun-violence cases further undermine the NRA’s distortion. When a sniper opened fire on armed Dallas police officers earlier this month, their guns did nothing to protect them. But imagine how many more casualties there would have been if everyone in the crowd had been armed to the hilt and shooting willy-nilly to stop an assailant who was not even visible.

A gunman managed to kill three Baton Rouge police officers and wound three others, despite the fact that his victims were both armed and trained to use their weapons. An armed security guard was working at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando when 49 customers were killed. The guard exchanged fire with the attacker but to no avail. And officials said that more firearms in the nightclub would have resulted in more innocent deaths during the hysterical melee the first shootings triggered.

In all of those cases, the attackers had the advantages of surprise and powerful weapons. We can’t stop the former, but we can curb the latter with sensible gun restrictions. We need laws designed to benefit society rather than the profits of weapons and munitions manufacturers.

Americans don’t balk at the myriad other restrictions they live with, many of which are ridiculous and unfair. Citizens don’t become unhinged at having to undergo minor security checks to buy decongestants. They don’t send death threats to opticians in protest of bogus laws forcing contact lens wearers to undergo annual eye exams, whether they need them or not. Most citizens accept laws against littering, urinating on sidewalks and coming to a complete halt at stop signs even when no traffic is present.

Yet the NRA has trained millions of Americans to go full freak at potentially life-saving restrictions, such as preventing terrorists from buying assault weapons and prohibiting the sale of body-armor-piercing bullets. Obviously, sanity is being set aside when it comes to this issue and tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year as a result.

Beginning now, you must force candidates for offices at all levels to explain their positions on gun control. Let them know that in order to earn your vote, they must support sensible gun control that does not violate the 2nd Amendment but can reduce the shootings.

We’re finally in a place where Americans are fed up with the nation’s gun obsession. We have a presidential candidate who plans to challenge the NRA from the top of the ticket, but it’s up to voters to put pressure on local and state officials.

Together, let’s imagine a nation where we don’t awake every morning to headlines of another slaughter, where we don’t live every day with the fear that we — or someone we love — will be next. Then take that vision to your candidates and ultimately to the ballot box.

 

Justice Department to review police response at the Pulse

 

The U.S. Justice Department plans a comprehensive review of the Orlando Police Department’s response to the mass shooting June 12 at the Pulse nightclub.

The review will be conducted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services — known as the COPS Office.

Announcing the review, COPS director Ronald Davis said he commended Orlando Police Chief John Mina for his leadership in asking for the assessment.

“The lessons learned from this independent, objective and critical review of such a high-profile incident will benefit not only the Orlando Police Department and its community, it will also serve to provide all law enforcement critical guidance and recommendations for responding to future such incidents,” Davis said.

U.S. Attorney A Lee Bentley III, assigned to the Middle District of Florida, said, Mina’s decision to seek an independent review of the law enforcement response “is another example of his effective leadership.”

On June 12, on “Latin Night” at the LGBT nightclub in the central Florida city, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State terrorists in his call to police.

Some raised questions about the police department’s response, specifically whether law enforcement waited too long to storm the club after Omar Mateen’s rampage began.

Mina has said an early exchange of gunfire between Mateen and police forced the gunman into a bathroom at the club, where he held hostages. About three hours passed between those early shots and the police-killing of Mateen.

COPS will assess:

  • OPD’s preparation and response to the mass shooting.
  • Strategies and tactics used during the incident.
  • How the department is managing the aftermath of the massacre.

Similar reviews have been conducted in other cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Bernardino, California; Ferguson, Missouri; Tampa, Florida; and Pasco, Washington.

In Ferguson, an assessment followed the police-shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, and the mass demonstrations that followed Brown’s death.

The federal review led to a series of recommendations for the city of Ferguson and the police department regarding diversity, officer training and policies for responding to protests.

COPS dates back to 1995 and was established under Bill Clinton’s administration.

Gun control advocates arrested in protest at Rubio’s office

A month after the Orlando nightclub shooting, dozens of gun control advocates started a 49-hour sit-in near Sen. Marco Rubio’s office to remember the 49 victims. They sang songs, held signs that said “#SitForThe49” and laid 49 red roses on white paper with the names of each victim.

Nine hours in, police cut the demonstration short by arresting 10 protesters who refused to leave the building after business hours. The sit-in was part of a larger fight for new gun control measures, but so far the calls for change have yielded no results.

The protest was reminiscent of a 26-hour sit-in Democrats staged on the U.S. House floor last month. A GOP-written gun and anti-terror bill has stalled in Washington during this election year and it’s unclear when the House will consider the measure.

On Tuesday, two parents of a Pulse victim observed the shooting anniversary by visiting Washington, urging members of Congress to pass gun control laws.

Gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse during “Latin Night” on June 12 in a rampage that left 49 victims dead and injured 53 at the gay nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during a call with police dispatchers amid a three-hour standoff, died in a hail of police gunfire after police stormed the venue.

Protester Fausto Cardenas, a University of Central Florida student, said Pulse had been a “safe space” for him and other members of the LGBT community.

“To not feel safe in a space like that was a very impactful thing for us,” said Fausto, who wasn’t arrested. “We want to hold people accountable.”

The protesters said they were targeting Rubio because of the Florida Republican’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the support he has gotten from the National Rifle Association.

Rubio, a former GOP presidential candidate, was in Washington this week, but his state director listened to the protesters for about five minutes Monday.

“Sen. Rubio respects the views of others on these difficult issues, and he welcomes the continued input he is receiving from people across the political spectrum,” Rubio spokeswoman Kristen Morrell said in an email.

The arrested protesters face misdemeanor trespass charges. They were released late Monday on $250 bond.

The protesters said they wanted all politicians to reject contributions from the NRA, and they wanted tighter restrictions on assault weapons, as well as universal background checks for all gun purchasers.

“It’s not enough for politicians to offer platitudes,” said Rasha Mubarak, an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida. “We demand a comprehensive platform for gun control.”

As part of the shooting anniversary, Orlando area officials on Tuesday helped move 49 white crosses, which served as one of the three major memorials to the Pulse victims, from Orlando Regional Medical Center to the Orange County Regional History Center, where the crosses will be preserved.

An official memorial will be designed as a garden near the hospital. Hospital officials said Tuesday that four patients from the Pulse shooting were still being treated, including one in critical condition.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Mica planned to hold a hearing in Washington on Friday on why federal authorities didn’t deem terrorism as a high enough threat factor in Orlando for the region to receive federal money for preventing and responding to terrorist threats. Almost $590 million in grants were distributed this year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to metro areas, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, but Orlando was left off the list.

The parents of one of the Pulse victims, Maria and Fred Wright, were in Washington, asking lawmakers to pass any gun control legislation. Their son, Jerry Wright, a Walt Disney World worker, was among the slain.

“Forty-nine people were killed just because they were out trying to have fun,” said Maria Wright. “We are losing our freedom to get together and have fun because our government isn’t doing anything. I’m asking them to please do something before we have more children killed.”

GLAAD, musicians release ‘a song for Orlando’

GLAAD and Interscope Records have released “Hands,” a musical tribute to the victims of Orlando. The tune features Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo, Tyler Glenn, Selena Gomez, Halsey, Ty Herndon, Imagine Dragons, Juanes, Adam Lambert, Mary Lambert, Jennifer Lopez, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Kacey Musgraves, MNEK, Alex Newell, P!nk, Prince Royce, Nate Ruess, RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Jussie Smollett, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and Meghan Trainor.

Proceeds from the sale of the single in the United States will benefit Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.

“Orlando’s broken hearts have been lifted by the outpouring of love and support from people near and far,” said Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith. “There has been beauty in the midst of our grief and we are grateful to these talented artists, producers, and GLAAD for helping us mourn and laugh and cry and sing together.”

“The horrific attack on the LGBT community in Orlando has left us devastated, but not defeated,” added GLAAD president & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “As we continue to mourn the crushing loss of 49 Americans, the majority of whom were Latino and whose lives were lost to hate, we stand resolved in paying tribute to their memory, supporting the victims and families, and working together to achieve full acceptance once and for all.”

Additional comment from others involved:

“This senseless tragedy is a call to all of us to stand together and face down hatred, intolerance and violence … and having grown up a short drive from Orlando, it really brings it right to my doorstep,”said John Janick, chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M.  “We all know music has the power to heal, and I’m honored and grateful to be a part of whatever our business can do to help.”

“The second I heard about this horrible tragedy where so many of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters lost their lives, I immediately got on a plane to Orlando to volunteer my help anyway I could,” said “Hands” writer and producer Justin Tranter. “Putting this charity single together is just a way for me, and everyone involved to keep volunteering our help and promote peace and love in the world.”

“Hands” was written by Warner Chappell writers Tranter and Julia Michaels and BloodPop; produced by BloodPop, Mark Ronson and Tranter.

On the Web

“Hands” is available now for digital download via iTunes HERE.

Schooling an intelligence: acting in the wake of Orlando

When, on June 13, a handful of Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen walked off the floor of the House of Representatives and several others remained to challenge vocally the failure of the Congress to consider and enact firearms-related legislation, they ignited much more than a collateral skirmish in America about the meaning, the solemnity, and the purpose of moments of silence. To be sure, their actions animated, at least in part, the legislative goings-on of the following days — including the 14-hour filibuster on the June 15 and 16, initiated by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, on the floor of the other deliberative chamber on Capitol Hill, and the 26-hour sit-in, led by Georgia Congressman John Lewis back in the House on the June 22 and 23 — all organized to rally the spirit of America in movement toward that day when rational, balanced, and effective federal laws are codified among other common sense mechanisms to reduce if not stop outright the types of cataclysmic violence that most recently and savagely ripped 49 of us from our national life and brutally injured hundreds of others, both physically and emotionally, in the common pursuit of livelihood.

But in his public explanation of why he chose to leave the People’s House during the moment of silence on June 13, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, was on to something much more: Among other unsettling aspects of the impotence that infects the work of the women and the men we send to Washington, Himes bemoaned the “torrent of hate, threats and anger worthy of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell (directed) toward elected officials who speak out for reform.” Understanding and articulating the indivisible connections between the hearts and the minds of men and women of all times, it was the 14th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri who told us that “(t)he hottest places … are reserved for those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” It is thus in this abiding time of pain and trouble and suffering that our hearts must school our intelligence — away from the inertia, the indifference, and, yes, the neutrality of inaction and toward an aggressive, targeted set of behaviors that genuinely mean something, that generate forward industry, and that change practically the life and the livelihood of our nation.

So what precisely is it that thoughtful, caring, and engaged Wisconsinites — including but not limited to those who proudly count themselves among the cherished and valued members of our LGBT community — should be about in the wake of Orlando, in pursuit of the finest, most genuine memorial to those who were martyred at the Pulse nightclub? There are, of course, the often-touted recommendations, frequently advanced because they do, in fact, make sense: Among them is advocacy for the candidacies of those people who understand that, while legislation and the enforcement of those laws is not a panacea, things like universal background checks in all venues and all exchanges, prohibitions on sales to persons with convictions for violent misdemeanors, judicial processes for protective orders restraining lethally violent family members, and measured changes in the coverage and the penalties of laws prohibiting so-called “straw” purchasing and preventing certain categories of offenders like those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining concealed carried permits — all of these and other reasonable proposals would make cognizable differences — for, yes, the LGBT community and also for the partnered communities of every race and national origin, each faith and religious affiliation, and all abilities and disabilities.

Recognition of that sisterhood and brotherhood among our neighbors in Wisconsin and throughout the country should also prompt a renewed and reinvigorated engagement by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender men and women in the leadership and policy-making, the programming and presentations, the education and training, and the public events and gatherings of our area’s many, diverse associations, councils, alliances, and coalitions — both formal and informal, public and private — that are committed to addressing the civil rights issues and wrestle with the human dignity challenges that affect all of us. Consistent with this commission (already pursued activity and effectively by many), members of the Milwaukee-based LGBT community will find their welcoming places and invest resourceful time in the human rights and other life-affirming initiatives of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, of Independence First and Disability Rights Wisconsin, of the Milwaukee Urban League and the Milwaukee Chapter of the NAACP, of El Centro Hispano and Voces de la Frontera, of the Running Rebels and Urban Underground, of the Boys and Girls Clubs and COA Youth & Family Centers, of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, MICAH, Pastors United, and virtually all venues of our faith congregations — an illustrative (and wildly incomplete) list of civic invitations.

Our recent history of devastating violence in places like Charleston, Roseburg, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Binghamton, Newtown, Blacksburg, Killeen, Columbine, and Oak Creek, among many others, confirms both the chilling ferocity and the complex animation of people who — as human “cocktails” of hate, disaffection, anger, delusion, failure, and malice — wage devastating wars on all of us. The sanguine lesson of each of those venues is equally clear: Not only must we address a society in which firearms are increasingly used as the mechanisms for conflict resolution but we need also, desperately, to confront the voices, the instruction, the encouragement of those who fail or simply refuse to understand the abundant benefits and transcendent values in diversity — of color, creed, homeland, heritage, capacity, ability, orientation, and identity — in education, housing, public access, commerce, the arts, religion, employment, transportation, voting, neighborhood, and family.

And the initiatives and programs, existing and forthcoming, to accomplish all of that must be designed and implemented cross-community — invoking the vested intelligence, the practical experience, and the animated spirit of every interest group and individual body in ways and means that are operationally coordinated in vision, in communication, and in action with each other. The interests and challenges, the needs and aspirations of the LGBT community are those of every community of women and men in Wisconsin and throughout our nation that is similarly committed to fair treatment, equal protection, just administration of the law, and lives lived with dignity, compassion, nobility, and pride in what it means to be human.

That can and will be accomplished when the boards of directors, the executive leadership, the active members, the volunteer staff, and the served constituents of all of our civil rights leagues are populated with representation by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and men — along with equally invested men and committed women of every race, nationality, disability, ability, religion, and faith affiliation who are straight. Human rights to jobs, to schooling, to accommodations, to movement — in short, to be free from bias and discrimination in all of the adventures of our lives — are rights shared across communities, and the successes routinely witnessed when LGBT voices and energies are embedded in the missions of anti-violence, faith, youth opportunity, business, disability rights, arts, voting rights, charitable, and neighborhood safety groups, for instance, are many and borderline miraculous.

Finally, those same area voices and local energies must be re-committed, not only in the immediate aftermath of Orlando but for all time, to ensure that instances of hate crimes, from the unmistakable to the uncertain, are fully and timely reported to law enforcement. In Milwaukee, in the surrounding communities, and in virtually every region of our state, we benefit from an educated, sensitive, responsive, and professional cadre of police officers and leaders who genuinely “get this” — that is, that physical violence visited on our residents and motivated by actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability is in violation of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by the President in October of 2009. The civil rights units of the Federal Bureau of Investigation throughout Wisconsin and every other state are not only committed to investigate hate crimes and to present the results of those inquiries for possible prosecution but are also commissioned to record, maintain, track, and report on hate crimes in all categories of offense so that law enforcement resources may be appropriately allocated and, arguably just as important, to ensure that the Congress and all United States citizens appreciate the nature, the frequency, the location, and the severity of the conduct — along with the remedial actions of law enforcement to it.

The hate crime committed against the patrons of the Pulse night club on June 12 now takes its rightful but hideous place in those annals of law enforcement, of Congressional reporting, and, most significantly, of the wounds to our nation’s spirit and enduring history. In abiding honor and vested memory of those who died, those who were injured, and those who will similarly suffer throughout their lives from the terror of that early morning, all residents of Wisconsin and of our country—not only members of our LGBT family — are suitably prompted to identity perceived hate crimes, to facilitate timely communications to first responders, to support victims and witnesses in difficult but critical investigations, and to educate fellow citizens on their obligations under the law and on the delivery of justice and resurrection to survivors of hate.

As we observe and celebrate the 240th year of our glorious American nation, we also pause in contemplative acknowledgment that our history includes pains and troubles — times and places, indeed, where our hearts have suffered in a thousand and diverse ways. But it is from the hornbooks of our hearts, from the terrible experiences of this month and many others, that we grow in our intelligence, that we take our true identity, and that we reveal our soul in peace, in fellowship, and in aspiration.

James L. Santelle is the immediate past presidentially-appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in which capacity he also served on the Civil Rights component of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. He has been a regular supporter of area LGBT organizations, including Fair Wisconsin, Diverse & Resilient, the Cream City Foundation, and the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

 

Dispatcher: ‘Gunshots closer, multiple people screaming’

Orlando police dispatchers heard repeated gunfire, screaming and moaning from patrons of the Pulse nightclub who called to report that gunman Omar Mateen was opening fire inside the club, according to written logs released on June 28.

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. Dispatchers heard up to 30 gunshots in the background at another point as callers screamed and moaned.

“My caller is no longer responding, just an open line with moaning,” one dispatcher said in the report.

Another dispatcher wrote, “Hearing gunshots closer, multiple people screaming.”

A caller described Mateen as wearing a gray shirt and brown pants.

Mateen opened fire at the club on June 12, leaving 49 patrons dead and 53 injured in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history. In calls with the police after the shooting began, Mateen pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, declared himself to be an Islamic soldier and demanded that the United States stop bombing Syria and Iraq, the FBI said.

“Saying he pledges to the Islamic State,” a dispatcher wrote at 2:40 a.m.

The report recounted where patrons hid in the nightclub: in an office upstairs, in a closet, in a dressing room and behind a stage. Ten people were hiding in the handicap stall of a bathroom. One caller described patrons using their hands to stop the bleeding of shooting victims.

At several points, callers relayed misinformation to the dispatchers. One caller said there was a second gunman and another thought Mateen had a bomb.

Mateen “is saying he is a terrorist … and has several bombs strapped to him in the downstairs female restroom,” the dispatcher notes said.

According to the time-stamped calls, nine people were evacuated through the air conditioner window of a dressing room at 4:21 a.m. At 5:07 a.m., dispatchers heard an explosion as SWAT team members tried to knock down a bathroom wall to free 15 hostages. At 5:17 a.m., dispatchers heard: “Bad guy down.”

Emails, inspection reports and texts released by the Orlando Fire Department on June 28 suggested that one of the exits at the Pulse nightclub wasn’t operable weeks before the massacre, but a fire department spokeswoman and an attorney for the club both said that wasn’t true.

The last fire inspection at Pulse was conducted in late May when the inoperable exit door was discovered, according to an email exchange between Orlando Fire Marshall Tammy Hughes and Fire Chief Roderick Williams. A follow-up visit was planned but hadn’t been assigned so it wasn’t known if the problem was fixed, the emails said.

But Pulse attorney Gus Benitez said that none of the six exits at the gay nightclub was blocked during the inspection. 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 wall. Both items were corrected, Benitez said in a statement.

Fire department spokeswoman Ashley Papagni backed up Benitez’s contention. She said the exit door was deemed inoperable because of the light bulb problem in the exit sign.

Pulse had twice the number of exits needed to accommodate its maximum occupancy of 300 patrons, according to the emails and texts.

The emails and dispatcher notes were released on the same day that a legal tug-of-war broke out over which court should be the venue for determining whether 911 tapes from the Pulse nightclub shootings can be made public.

Nearly two dozen news media organizations — including The Associated Press, CNN and The New York Times — contend city officials are wrongly withholding recordings of 911 calls and communications between gunman Mateen and the Orlando Police Department. Mateen was killed by police after a standoff in the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

City officials claim the recordings are exempt under Florida law and are part of an FBI investigation.

A hearing had been scheduled this week in a Florida courtroom in Orlando but it 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 the news media organizations said they will fight to keep the case in state court.

Senate Republicans defeat gun violence prevention measures

The U.S. Senate has voted down gun violence prevention amendments just a week after 49 people were massacred and 53 others were injured in an attack on a gay club in Orlando, Florida.

The votes went largely along party lines, with Republicans siding with the National Rifle Association.

The amendments to the FY 17 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 2578) were introduced by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Feinstein’s proposal would have ensured the U.S. Justice Department, which backed the measure, had the authority to deny gun sales to individuals it had a reasonable suspicion were involved in terrorism.

Murphy’s proposal would have tightened the unlicensed seller loophole by requiring criminal background checks on all sales while maintaining reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and emergency self-defense.

“We are deeply disappointed in each and every senator who failed to stand up today for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation,” said David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

He continued, “For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence, and easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat. The volatile combination of animosity towards the LGBTQ community and easy access to deadly weapons exacerbates the climate of fear and the dangers faced by LGBTQ people. Reasonable gun violence prevention measures are part of the solution to bias-motivated violence, and it’s critical that Congress pass commonsense legislation.”

HRC had urged senators to vote for the Democrats’ measures in a letter sent following the mass shooting in Orlando committed by a violent man who had easy access to guns.

HRC, in its statement, said the degree of bloodshed at the Pulse nightclub and many other recent mass shootings “may have been avoided if the perpetrators had faced reasonable restrictions on their ability to own a gun. In most states across the country, troubled individuals intent on carrying out violence can purchase assault-type weapons without a background check from an unlicensed seller, no questions asked, including in Florida.”

Erica Lafferty Smegielski of the Everytown Survivor Network called the senators who voted against the measures spineless.

“Following the worst mass shooting in modern American history, spineless members of the Senate blocked critical measures that would have kept guns out of the hands of dangerous, hateful people and saved innocent lives from gun violence,” said Smegielski.

“Three years ago, some of those same politicians blocked a gun safety bill after my mother was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. Tonight’s shameful vote brings that day back all too clearly — the anger, the disappointment, the sense of injustice,” Smegielski continued. She is the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was shot and killed Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Recent polls show a supermajority of Americans support common sense solutions to gun violence, including expanded background checks.

Some Republicans in the Senate, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, supported an NRA-approved proposal to deny a gun sale to a known or suspected terrorist if prosecutors could convince a judge within three days that the buyer was involved in terrorist activity.

Gun control advocates mocked the proposal, which also was supported by Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio. Toomey, Johnson and Portman are considered vulnerable this election cycle, facing strong Democratic challengers.

Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, also faces a strong Democratic challenge from U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth but he supported the Democrats’ proposals to expand background checks, close the gun show loophole and allow the government to deny gun sales to suspected terrorists.

“If you’re too dangerous to fly on a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a firearm,” Kirk said, according to an AP report.

Before the Senate votes on June 20, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Connecticut’s assault weapons ban.

Editor’s note: this story will be updated.