ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - For the first time since the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, five officers with the Orlando Police Department are sharing their stories from the night of the massacre.
Several of the officers actually risked their lives by going into the nightclub to pull people out as they were being fired upon by the gunman. Their supervisor, Deputy Chief Robert Anzueto, is calling them all heroes.
At the time, the officers said it was hard to see anything inside the club, because it was so dark, but patients grabbed them and screamed for help. Anzueto said the officers were about 30 feet from the killer, when they made around 15 to 18 rescues.
"These people needed my help, and they were reaching out to us to help them. It was an instinctive thing to grab whoever I could and get them out of there, get them into a safe zone," said Officer James Hyland.
Hyland was driving an unmarked OPD black Ford F-150, onto which victims were loaded and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
"I don't remember anybody really talking to us. They were either in shock or just so injured at the time that there wasn't much conversation," explained Officer Justin Lovett. "We got them to the truck, dropped off who we could and ran off to try to bring more people out."
Lovett described the scene as "horrific" as he and some 50 police officers disregarded their own safety. "At some point, I think someone made mention of a bomb, and we needed to get back. All the officers looked at each other, and we all decided at the same time, there is no way we're going to move. Leave them here? Nobody moved."
Officer Michael Napolitano, who was saved by his Kevlar helmet from the shooter's bullet, was also transported to ORMC by his colleagues.
The officers were not allowed to go into detail about the shooting, because it' is still an open investigation.