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

by Ree Hines / / Source: TODAY

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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.

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

22 photos
AFP-Getty Images, AP
See photos of global solidarity following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

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