News

Hero cops at Orlando shooting ran toward what 'most people run away from'

It was the deadliest mass shooting in the nation's history; 49 people were killed — 50 counting the shooter himself — and 53 others were injured at an Orlando nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning. But had it not been for the actions of law enforcement officers at the scene, including 11 police officers and three sheriff's deputies who exchanged fire with the gunman, the losses would have likely been much greater.

In the wake of the tragedy, the names of the officers still haven't been released. So for now, they're simply known as heroes.

TODAY
Orange county sheriff Jerry Demmings speaks to TODAY about the LGBT nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings spoke to a 14-year veteran of the force who was on the scene.

"I can tell you that I saw utter anxiety in his face at that time," Demings told TODAY. "He said, 'Sheriff, there are multiple bodies in there. I just saw something that I've never seen before.'"

RELATED: Orlando massacre survivor shares harrowing tale of shooting, escape

Steven Hernandez
An Orlando police officer helps a wounded victim of the LGBT nightclub shooting.

But despite what all of the officers saw that night, they didn't stand back.

"They are trained to run to things that most people run away from," former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings added.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Recent grads, world travelers: These are the Orlando nightclub victims

Play Video - 2:38

Recent grads, world travelers: These are the Orlando nightclub victims

Play Video - 2:38

As is standard policy after an officer-involved shooting, all of the officers are currently on leave and have been offered counseling.

  • Slideshow Photos

    AFP-Getty Images, AP

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    See photos of global solidarity following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

  • New York

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    New York

    One World Trade Center in New York is lit in rainbow colors on Sunday in response to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

    AFP - Getty Images
  • White House

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Washington, D.C.

    A rainbow flag is held up during a vigil in front of the White House in Washington on Sunday. 

    Reuters
  • Tel-Aviv, Israel

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Tel Aviv, Israel

    Tel Aviv City Hall lit up with rainbow flag colors

    AP
  • Sydney, Australia

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Sydney, Australia

    Sydney Town Hall illuminated pink to remember victims of the Orlando night club massacre.

    Getty Images
  • Seattle, Washington

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Seattle, Washington

    A rainbow flag flies at half mast on the Space Needle in Seattle.

    AFP - Getty Images
  • Orlando, Florida

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Orlando, Florida

    The Orlando Eye observation wheel lit up in rainbow colors on Sunday to remember victims at the city's Pulse nightclub. 

    AP
  • New York

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    New York

    New York City Hall in downtown Manhattan on Sunday. 

    AFP - Getty Images
  • Sydney, Australia

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Sydney, Australia

    The Sydney Harbour Bridge on Monday. 

    EPA
  • Wellington, New Zealand

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Wellington, New Zealand

    The Michael Fowler Center during a candlelight vigil on Monday

    AFP - Getty Images
  • Paris, France

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Paris, France

    American flags and a rainbow banners hang at the Paris City Hall Monday.

    AP
  • Washington, D.C.

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Washington, D.C.

    Flags lowered to half-staff on the Washington Monument grounds. 

    Getty Images
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    The High Roller observation wheel pays tribute to Orlando victims at The Linq Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. 

    Shutterstock
  • Tacoma, Washington

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Tacoma, Washington

    A rainbow appears behind the U.S. flag flying at half-staff on top of the Tacoma Dome, on June 13, 2016, in Tacoma, Washington.

    AP
  • Paris, France

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Paris, France

    The Eiffel tower is illuminated in rainbow colors in honor of the victims of the June 12th mass shooting in Paris, France.

    EPA
  • Grand-Place, Brussels

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Grand-Place, Brussels

    The buildings on Grand Place, the central square of Brussels, are lit up in the colors of the LGBT rainbow flag on June 13, 2016 in support of the victims of Orlando shootings.

    AFP - Getty Images
  • Los Angeles, California

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Los Angeles, California

    Los Angeles Hall is lit in the colors of the rainbow flag to honor the LGBT victims on June 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

    Getty Images
  • Liverpool, England

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Liverpool, England

    St Georges Hall is illuminated with a rainbow flag following a vigil in memory of the victims of the gay nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, in Liverpool, northern England on June 13, 2016.

    Reuters
  • New York

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    New York

    The Helmsley Building in New York is lit in rainbow colors to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub.

    Reuters
  • Orlando, Florida

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Orlando, Florida

    A lantern is released and flies over a hotel lit in rainbow colors after an evening memorial service for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

    Getty Images
  • Boston, Massachusetts

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Boston, Massachusetts

    Boston's City Hall is lit in the colors of the pride flag for the victims of the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 13, 2016.

    Reuters
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    People stand in front of the Royal Palace at Dam Square in Amsterdam as it is illuminated in rainbow colors to pay homage to the victims of a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

    AFP - Getty Images
  • Naples, Italy

    World reacts to Orlando shooting

    of

    Naples, Italy

    The Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples Italy is illuminated with the colors of rainbow to honor victims of a shooting massacre a day earlier in Orlando, in Naples, Italy on June 13, 2016.

    EPA

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.

TOP