On The Ground In Orlando
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now we want to turn to NPR's Jeff Brady, who's a few blocks away from the shooting scene in Orlando, and he's with us now. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us once again.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Yes, I'm here.
MARTIN: Can you tell us a little bit more about the scene now? What's the mood there like now?
BRADY: Yeah, there's a lot of activity here. The police are very busy trying to process that scene. And you have folks showing up here. They want to know what's going on. And there's been a lot of information released. But of course, there's always a hunger for more.
The city of Orlando has started releasing names of some of the dead on a website. There are currently six names there. They're all men. All of them have Latino names. And you can just look down the list here, and they're all young men - 23 years old, 20 years old, 34 years old. We're told that last night was Latino night at the Pulse. And I talked with a transgender woman in the local community here, and she said the nightclub was known as a welcoming place to everyone. And she always felt comfortable there.
MARTIN: I understand that we've been hearing from local officials throughout the day. What are they saying?
BRADY: Yeah, Mayor Buddy Dyer said that this is probably the most difficult day in the history of Orlando. And he - here's a little bit more of what he had to say.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
BUDDY DYER: Today, the next few days, the next few weeks and the next few months we need to support each other. We need to love each other. And we will not be defined by a hateful shooter. We'll be defined how we support and love each other.
BRADY: Mayor Dyer asked family members who think a loved one may have been a victim of the shooting to be patient because authorities there - you know, they're trying to identify people as quickly as they can. They've set up a system to do that, but you can imagine with this number of dead and injured that's a difficult job.
MARTIN: I understand that Florida Governor Rick Scott has asked for flags to be lowered around the state, as have governors from other states. And Governor Scott has also declared a state of emergency. What else has he said today?
BRADY: Yeah, of course, he thanked some of those police officers who went into that shooting scene and, he said, risked their own lives to save other people. One officer was wounded. He was likely saved by his Kevlar helmet. And the police department tweeted out a picture of that helmet. It's a compelling picture. But Governor Scott - he has called on people here in Florida to support each other.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
RICK SCOTT: This state is going to be defined as a state of generosity, a state of love. We are a resilient state. We love people in our state, and we're going to continue to do that. Anybody that's thinking about doing something like this in our state - our justice is swift. Our penalties are severe. We have a great law enforcement team, and we're going to do the right thing.
BRADY: So a message of comfort, but also a warning to anyone else there who might want to do something like this. And we're learning a little bit more about some of those police officers who went in. There were 11 of them who exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter and police say killed him. All 11 of those officers have been put on leave, and that's typical when there's a police shooting and an investigation after that.
MARTIN: Jeff, before we let you go, what have we learned about the weapons the alleged shooter had?
BRADY: They were purchased not that long ago. Omar Mateen - he had been investigated by the FBI twice - once in 2013 and again in 2014. And reporters were asking those the FBI well, if he had been investigated, how was he allowed to go and buy a gun in the last couple of days? And an FBI official said well, we cleared him on those two investigations. And he wasn't determined to be a threat. So there was no reason to put restrictions on him buying a gun.
MARTIN: That was NPR's Jeff Brady, with us from Orlando. Jeff, thanks so much for speaking with us.
BRADY: Thank you.
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