Using one assault rifle and one pistol, Omar Mateen shot 49 people inside Pulse nightclub more than 200 times in the first 20 minutes of his massacre, according to autopsy reports released this week.
Forty-nine people were killed and 53 more were injured, nearly all of them shot by Mateen before he killed others hiding in bathrooms on the night of June 12. It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the deadliest attack against members of the LGBT community in American history, and the deadliest terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11.
While not all of the bullets came from Mateen’s Sig Sauer .223 that night, most of them—and in turn most of the massively damaging, fatal shots—did come from from the assault rifle he wielded with such cold-blooded efficiency. The rest came from his 9mm Glock 17 pistol.
Written in the cold and precise language of the morgue, the 49 autopsy reports are a sobering reminder of what a madman with a few guns can do in a short amount of time.
Just after 2 a.m., Mateen easily passed a security guard working the front door of the nightclub and began shooting. By 2:22 a.m., Mateen had killed most of his victims that night and was holding hostages in the bathrooms, according to a 911 call he made. After hours of negotiations, police made their move. He killed at least five more people in the bathrooms, according to The Washington Post, before police killed Mateen.
In all, 12 men and women were shot in the head—one with enough force that one of the three bullets to strike his head left a “blowout wound” 5 by 2 inches in the back of his skull. One man had a bullet go in one eye and out the other. Another victim was shot five times in the torso, bullets cutting through both of his lungs, his aorta, liver, small intestine, stomach, esophagus, trachea, and gallbladder.
When an investigator noted on their report whether any medical intervention had been performed on the man, he wrote, “None.” The same goes for many of the victims, already so severely wounded by the time police and paramedics arrived that their dying bodies or lifeless corpses were left in an attempt to save the lives of those who were less injured.
The reports also detail the physical consequences of standing up to a heavily armed man.
Stanley Almodovar was the only victim found to have had “stippling” near the gunhot wounds just under his collarbone, a sign of being shot at point-blank range.
He fought back.
“He followed [Mateen] and tried to stop him. He said, ‘Where are you going?’ He was a hero. He tried to save other people,” Almodovar’s mother, Rosalia Ramos told the Boston Herald.
Brenda McCool was shot 10 times before pushing her son away in an effort to save his life. He lived. One of the rounds went through her purse.
The autopsies do not just measure how someone died, but in some cases a bit about who they were.
Pulse employee Deonka “Dee Dee” Drayton, who was one of those trapped in the bathrooms and eventually died there, used her body as a living memorial for those in her life who had passed before her. “Alexia,” “Hakeem,” and “Nadia” are just a few of those remembered in tattoos on Drayton’s body.
Now, someone will have to have her name tattooed on them in somber remembrance. Perhaps the 3-year-old child Drayton was helping to raise will do so one day.
Luis Ocapio Caso, 20, had three identification cards in his wallet—two from his former high school and one from a local community college. His was a life in transition.
A broken wristwatch band in the body bag of Luis Wilson Leon, shot five times, mostly from behind. Amanda Alvear’s white jeans that “may have had a floral pattern” before they were “obsured with blood stains.” Antonio Brown’s Army ID, and Juan Chavez-Martinez’s Mexican passport.
Imagine Alvear’s family retrieving the $5.73 she had in her purse when her body showed up at the medical examiner’s office.
At close range, at intermediate range, at a distance, the bullets shredded the bodies of innocents who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time—and who happen to live in a country where the rights of those who would arm themselves with assault rifles like the one Mateen used that night are vigorously protected.
The information contained in the reports can be difficult to read if you view the victims as the humans they were in life and not the bodies they became in death. But perhaps for those who refuse to cede any ground to ban assault rifles, the reports are necessary reading.