Orlando shooter Omar Mateen made two phone calls while he massacred the nightclub Pulse early Sunday morning, killing 49 people.
According to reports, the gunman called a friend to say goodbye before the final shootout that resulted in his death. The FBI has interviewed that friend, sources say, though no details of the conversation have been made public.
The other call Mateen reportedly made was to a local news station News13, where he announced his allegiance to the Islamic State.
Producer Matthew Gentili said the shooter called the station at 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, about 45 minutes after the first shots were fired at the popular nightclub. He recalled:
“I answered the phone as I always do: ‘News 13, this is Matt.’ And on the other end, I heard, ‘Do you know about the shooting?’ “
After Gentili told the caller he heard reports of a shooting, Mateen cut in to say:
“I’m the shooter. It’s me. I am the shooter.”
The producer was understandably speechless as Mateen said the siege was in support of the Islamic State before speaking rapidly in what Gentili surmises was Arabic. He continued:
“I didn’t know what he was saying. He was speaking fluently — whatever language he was speaking, he knew it.”
After the producer asked that the caller spoke in English, Mateen allegedly replied:
“I did it for ISIS. I did it for the Islamic State.”
After a moment of silence, Gentili asked the caller if there was anything else he wanted to say, to which he replied “no” and ended the call.
In the wake of the incident, Gentili said he was interviewed at home by the FBI — and admits he will be forever “changed” by receiving this harrowing phone call. He added:
“When you get a phone call like that, I’m never going to be able to answer the phone again without thinking this is the most serious call I’ll ever get in my life.”
We can only imagine the lasting impact of being on the receiving end of that call.