tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC June 13, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
after the game, watch spartan team challenge and then of course our 11:00 newscast. >> nightly news is next. tonight, inside a chilling time line of terror. a portrait of a killer now emerging. new questions about why police waited hours to storm inside. and how did the gunman investigated by the fbi once put on a terror watch list legally buy the guns used to massacre so many? out for a night of fun, where they thought they were safe, didn't make it out alive. tonight i talked to the mom who captured hearts across america, pleading for her son. her anguish now turns to heart ache. what she wants the world to know. and terror politics. as donald trump saying president obama doesn't want to stop terrorists, the presumptive gop nominee wading into wild conspiracy theories. in the wake of a national tragedy. "nightly news" from orlando starts right now.
>> announcer: terror in orlando, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. reporting tonight from orlando. >> good evening. first, the shock and now the soul-searching questions. tonight we now know virtually minute by minute how a single gunman perpetrated the deadliest shooting in american history and about the three phone calls between the terrorists and a 911 operator during the siege. the questions focus on how a man previously investigated by the fbi over jihadist sympathies still managed to slip below the radar, to buy guns and commit this hideous attack. and there are questions about the police response, and the timing of their assault. a day of rapid developments about the killer, his motivations, the victims, and those they leave behind. and we begin our expanded coverage with nbc's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: tonight new images inside pulse. the gay nightclub
during its popular last night. music, dancing -- and then gunfire. amanda captured the shooting is among the dead. today survivors in new detail describing the scene of terror. >> gunshots to the head, legs, arms, shoulders, stomach, back. >> i could smell the ammo in the air and i said this is a gun. >> it's an awful experience. >> oh, my god! people are getting shot. >> reporter: at 2:00 a.m. an off-duty officer engages with omar mateen, armed with an ar-15 assault rifle like this one, a handgun and plenty of ammunition. nbc news has learned from authorities that the engaging officer retreated, backup arrived in two minutes. the injured pouring out. but others like eddie justice trapped inside. texting his mother,
mina, mommy, i love you. a team of responding officers then engages mateen in another gun fight forcing him to retreat into one of the club's four bathrooms where he takes four to five hostages. another 15 people are hiding in a nearby restroom. dozens make a break for it, running for their lives. now a standoff from the bathroom. three 911 calls. mateen said to be calm, pledges allegiance to isis twice and then calls the tsarnaev brothers responsible for the boston marathon bombing his home boys. >> they stop shooting and retreat into the rear bathroom with the door shut. that's where we had to barricade -- changed from an active shooter to a barricaded gunman/hot damage situation. >> reporter: from inside a bathroom, eddie justice texts his mom again. he's coming, i'm going to die. three hours after the seize started, police
decide to storm the building. an armored vehicle breaks the bathroom wall where mateen is hunkered down. according to survivors, at some point mateen hid among the dead to hide from police. soon after a hail of gunfire, he shoots one officer in the head. the 29-year-old suspect is finally killed. inside the club, 38 victims are dead. nine more would die on their way to or at the hospital. two bodies were found on the street. a night of celebration ending in terror. the deadliest mass shooting in u.s. history. tonight police confirm they are investigating if any of the victims were accidently shot by the 14 officers who opened fire. the police chief said he had no choice, his officers had to storm the building. as for the detective inside the crime scene, they describe it as the most horrific scene they have ever seen. lester, hours after many people were killed, they say their cell phones were ringing, likely family members trying to reach them hoping they were still alive. >> so eerie and sad. we saw the police still going through
parking lots looking for evidence in the street. we are learning so much more about those killed and injured in this attack. nearly all the 49 people who were murdered have now been identified. many survivors still in the hospital this evening. we get more on the lives lost from nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: at a nightclub called pulse, they were full of life. 49 people, young, vibrant, dancing. 25-year-old amanda posted this haunting snapchat video. >> she was happy, she was joyful. great heart. >> reporter: luis was just 22 and worked at harry potter universal studio. >> they said he was shot twice. >> reporter: this man's son survived and is telling a chilling story of the gunman coming back to the slaughter. >> shooting people on the ground. to make sure they were
dead. >> reporter: so many more killed, whose stories were just beginning to learn. shane tomlinson graduated from east carolina university where singing was his passion. kimberly morris was a cell phone store manager, with an independent streak. eric rivera had moved to florida from puerto rico and sacrificed a lot for his family. edward sotomayor worked for a travel company. brenda mccool had beaten cancer, twice. peter gonzalez-cruz was always the life of the party. eddie justice was trapped in the bathroom during the rampage. >> he texted me at 2:06 and said, mommy, i love you. in the club they are shooting. please call police. i'm going to die. >> reporter: yet among the carnage, stories of hope. keenan carter was shot three times. >> you've got to wake up, you've got to come out of this. >> reporter: his sister even says doctors told the family he'd passed away. >> i said, do you hear me? he was like -- he shook his head. and i was like, i see
this. you see what's going on. it was just like a miracle. just like right before my eyes. >> reporter: after three surgeries, the family gathered in prayer. this morning, they were told a fourth operation stopped the blood loss. though carter is still in critical condition. >> he's a fighter. >> reporter: tonight orlando, a community just miles from the happiest place on earth, is coping with unimaginable sadness. a vigil honoring the victims is set to begin later tonight. 29 patients are being treated, 5 of them are in grave condition. the surgeries are ongoing. as family members anxiously wait. lester. >> all right. gabe gutierrez, thank you. tonight, there are growing questions about how a man investigated by the fbi and put on a terror watch list could legally purchase the guns used to massacre so many innocent people. as our justice correspondent, pete williams, reports the fbi says there was no system in place to notify investigators when that purchase was made.
>> reporter: the fbi director says agents thoroughly investigated omar mateen, beginning in 2013, while working as a security guard, the fbi says he told co-workers he had family connections with al qaeda and he himself was part of the terror group hezbollah. he was put under surveillance, and they interviewed him twice. conclusion? he made it all up. a few months later, the fbi questioned him again about going to the same mosque as another ft. pierce man who later became a suicide bomber in syria. their contact, the fbi determined, was minimal. again, case closed. the fbi director said he doesn't believe agents missed any sign that mateen would later become a terrorist. >> we are looking for needles in a nationwide haystack. but we're also called upon to figure out which pieces of hay might some day become needles. that is hard work. if we can find a way to do that better, we
will. >> reporter: during the ten months mateen was under investigation, his name was on a terror watch list. if he had tried to buy a gun then, the fbi would have been notified. but not after the case was closed. a former top atf official says the system should be changed, to send an alert when anyone who has ever been investigated for terrorism goes to buy a gun. >> if something changed and a neighbor called you amend said he was coming in with large barrels of chemicals, that would be a trip wire that you would want to act on. the same could be true if a person was trying to buy assault weapons and large amounts of ammunition. >> reporter: a little over a week ago, mateen went to this gun store and bought two weapons, like these, legal purchases the store owner says. >> unfortunately he's evil. we happen to be the gun store he picked. there's nothing else i can say. >> reporter: mateen's cell phone covered in blood, and other devices from his home are now being analyzed by the fbi lab in virginia. tonight investigators say they're also
questioning mateen's relatives. fbi wants to know if anyone close to him had any idea what he was up to and failed to say something about it. agents are also checking out claims from some in orlando's gay community who say mateen sent them messages on a gay dating app. lester? >> a lot of dots to be connected. pete, thank you. the shooter raised a number of red flags over the years for those who came into contact with him, including a former co-worker who said the shooter had anger issues and requested a transfer to get away from him. tonight our stephanie gosk talks to a former classmate of the shooter who says he exhibited disturbing behavior as far back as 9/11. >> reporter: photos of gunman omar mateen's condominium show a snapshot of what appears to be a happy family. but people who knew mateen describe him as an unpredictable, angry man, who showed support for violent extremism for years.
a description his mother told nbc's kerry sanders she doesn't recognize. >> did you know that your son could do this? >> no, never. >> reporter: nbc news spoke with former class mates who declined to talk on camera. they said mateen made light of 9/11, immediately following the attack. >> on 9/11, he was getting on the bus, making plane sounds, acting like he was a plane holding his arms out. like he would hit a building. >> reporter: more recently, two people who knew him well, his ex-wife and former colleague had strikingly similar impressions. both describe mateen's violent outbursts. >> he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere. that's when i started worrying about my safety, and then after a few months he started abusing me physically. >> he would kick things and throw things and slam his hands down and have a violent outburst of rage. >> reporter: former police officer daniel gilroy worked with
mateen as a security guard at this gated community in port st. lucie. >> did he talk about things that made you uncomfortable. >> yes, always. he always referred to every other race, religion, gender, in a very derogatory negative way. >> reporter: he even referred to them threateningly. >> he said so many times, i want to kill all these ns, i'm going to kill all these ns. he said that all the time. >> referring to -- >> black people. >> reporter: gilroy reported mateen to supervisors. but when mateen started harassing him gill roy quit. now he says he wishes he had done more. >> i feel responsible. i felt like because i was a coward, 50 people are dead. that's the way i feel. >> reporter: law enforcement wrapped up its search here at omar mateen's condominium. residents have been allowed to move back into their homes. tonight they're coming to terms with the fact that their neighbor
was a killer. mateen lived here with his wife and 3-year-old son. tonight they're staying with his parents. lester? >> stephanie gosk tonight, thank you. there is much more still ahead tonight from orlando, including the new political firestorm erupting over this attack, as the 2016 candidates come out swinging in wildly different ways. was donald trump implying that president obama is a terrorist sympathizer? we'll be back.
terror attack reverberating on the campaign trail. most notably, donald trump this morning making wild accusations, not so subtly suggesting that president obama doesn't want to stop terrorists. implying something sinister. nbc's andrea mitchell now in a new firestorm brewing. >> reporter: on a day when donald trump stands accused of exploiting the orlando tragedy to advance his campaign, he ripped into hillary clinton and president obama, blaming them for terrorism. >> the bottom line is that hillary supports policies that bring the threat of radical islam into america and allow it to grow overseas. >> reporter: today repeatedly insinuating that president obama is somehow complicit with terrorists. >> he doesn't get it. or gets it better than anyone understands. either one is unacceptable. >> reporter: when pressed by savannah guthrie on "today" -- >> a lot of people think maybe he doesn't want to know about it. i just happen to think he doesn't know what they're doing. he doesn't want to see what's really happening.
>> reporter: the white house saying the president's record speaks for itself. >> the record includes a lot of dead terrorists. >> reporter: trump also challenged by guthrie for tweeting on the day of the shooting, congratulated for being right on terrorists. >> you were focused on yourself and giving yourself congratulations. what do you say about that? >> i've been receiving tens of thousands of tweets. >> reporter: nbc found only four tweets congratulating him, not tens of thousands. trump undeterred by criticism of his muslim ban today pledging an even broader crackdown. >> i will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the united states. , europe, or our allies. >> reporter: clinton in sharp contrast, delivering a sobering address. >> today is not a day for politics. >> if the fbi is
watching you, for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn't be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. >> reporter: the candidate's sharpest exchanges yet over terrorism, explaining dramatic differences in the way they respond to a national tragedy. andrea mitchell, nbc news, cleveland. >> we are back in a moment with a mother whose search for answers has gripped the nation in the aftermath of the attack here.
mother of a 32-year-old man whose search for answers has touched so many of us. since early yesterday, the nation has shared christine's anguish. >> i don't know where my son is. no one can tell me where my son is. if he's been shot, if he's dead. >> reporter: a mother searching for her son. phone calls, trips to the hospital, and visits with police yielded no answers about christopher, her only child. neither did her emotional public pleas. >> he would be identifiable. i have his photo. he's very identifiable. >> reporter: finally today, three hours after her appearance on "today," and more than 30 hours after the shooting began, a florida policeman gave her the news she had been dreading. >> he said, your son is dead. >> just like that. >> just like that. >> he never made it to the hospital? >> he died on the floor of the club. that's what they said. >> reporter: exhausted, and
emotionally wrought, a former michigan police officer said she's more angry than sad. angry at the bureaucracy, and angry that police waited hours before sending the s.w.a.t. team in. >> if i had known that my son was in the club, laying on the floor, i would have gone in myself and brought him on my back and carried him the two blocks to the trauma center. >> reporter: christopher was 32. he worked in insurance in orlando, and was active in lgbt issues. >> he has been the easiest kid in the whole world. >> reporter: memories that come flooding back as she shares his baby pictures with me. have you accepted that he's gone? >> well, i had accepted it before. my heart wanted him alive. and he is always going to be alive in my heart. >> christopher was in
that is going to do it for us on this monday night. for some, "nightly news" will continue with another half hour of coverage. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, we thank you for watching. and we want to leave you now with the names of the 48 victims identified so far in the terror attack here.
terror in orlando. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt, reporting tonight from orlando. we're back with more of our continuing coverage of the terror attack at a gay nightclub here in orlando. now the deadliest mass shooting in american history. 49 people were killed by the attacker, 53 others were injured. there are so many new questions about how a man who was once on a terrorist watch list who was interviewed multiple times by the fbi was still able to buy guns and carry out this atrocity. also under scrutiny, the police response, and whether officers should have stormed the club earlier. all of this as we learned so much about the victims, and stories continue to emerge of incredible heroism during that