Editor’s note: scroll down to see the heart-wrenching interview with one of the first officers on scene at the deadly Pulse nightclub massacre.
Officer Omar Delgado will never forget the early morning hours of June 12th as an armed attacker shot up the inside of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
He was one of the first on scene.
“You could smell death in there. You could taste it.”
It was utter chaos.
A few months ago, we had the chance to sit down with Omar during the Not All Heroes Wear Capes event at Emergency Operations Proving Grounds in Texas.
Wounded officer and LET Citizen of the Year Houston Gass sat with Omar as he recounted the horrors of that day. The interview can be seen at the end of the article.
As hundreds of people tried to push through the exit of the nightclub door, emergency responders were trying to get inside to stop the carnage as a gunman fired shot after shot.
“Finally I made my way inside the club. And we just all stopped.”
As he called out to the people laying on the floor inside the club, a horrifying realization came over Delgado. Those people laying on the floor… they weren’t faking it. They weren’t playing dead in hopes that the shooter would look past them and seek another target.
They were hit. They were dying, or in most cases – already gone.
The officers made their way through the dance floor, looking for the gunman, but only seeing the carnage he left behind.
“Orlando is Disney World. The happiest place on Earth. People come here just for that. And… it wasn’t that. It was one of the worst massacres that occurred on U.S. soil.”
But then suddenly, movement. Some of the victims were still alive. Frantically, the officers called for fire crews to come inside and begin helping the wounded.
But they refused.
Everyone outside the club knew that the gunman hadn’t been taken out yet. He was reportedly hiding out and attempting to fix his jammed weapon as police made entry. He had been using social media and news stories to stay ahead of police. Other crews weren’t coming in.
That’s when Omar and his fellow officers began pulling injured bodies themselves, doing any and everything they could to save lives.
“I didn’t know who they were. But they were human beings. They were crying for help.”
Then the phones began to ring as loved ones heard the news of the active shooter situation. Omar was surrounded by the sound, all in unison, all people hoping that their friends and family members hadn’t been inside Pulse that night.
Omar described the horrific scene when one phone that continuously was ringing floated across the floor in a pool of blood…
“Then it’s just… pure silence.”
49 people died more than 50 others were injured before the gunman was killed in a shootout with police.
Surveillance footage was eventually released showing graphic footage of the attack as it unfolded.
A lawsuit was filed last June, going after Orlando officers who stood outside the club while the gunman continued his warpath inside.
“While people, unarmed, innocent were inside a club getting absolutely massacred by a crazed gunman there were a bunch of people … with guns, with the training and capability to take that shooter out,” Solomon Radner, attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, told ABC News.
But police rushed into the club a mere six minutes after the gunman began firing.
The city fired back, issuing a statement saying, “after the horrific act of hate inside the Pulse nightclub, our community continues to mourn the 49 lives taken and provide support for all those impacted. On the morning of June 12, 2016, federal, state and local law enforcement officers and first responders put themselves in harm’s way to save as many lives as possible.”
Officer Omar Delgado told us he’ll never be the same after that night.
“I came home that morning a different person,” he said. “I don’t know how I drove home.”
He said that once he got there he sat inside his car for over 15 minutes outside, covered in blood, lost in a world of thought.
We pray for Omar. We pray for every victim and their families. We pray for the other officers who faced the same trauma, and those that will in the future. And we say thank you for their service and bravery.
Take an exclusive look at this special episode of Thin Blue Blood as Omar tells his story.
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