Here is the full transcript of News 13 reporter Scott Fais' interview with station producer Matt Gentili about an ominous phone call he took at the TV station the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
- FULL COVERAGE: Pulse nightclub shooting
Matthew Gentili: “I’m the senior producer, on the weekend mornings, I’m the only person here from 1-3, and I’m — you know, deciding what stories we’re doing for the day, writing up — basically producing the entire show and getting everything ready ahead of time for our anchors and our EP’s the come in.”
Interviewer: “Walk me through Sunday morning.”
Matthew Gentili: “Sunday morning I came in at 1 in the morning, said hi to the police officer on duty in the parking lot and you know, it’s just a regular day. We had a shooting on Saturday of Christina Grimmie, it was very tragic and coming in I knew I had a lot to do to put on a good show for the morning show and around 2 a.m. I started hearing some things over the scanners. I’m not very familiar with the “police speak” down here in Orlando, so I was hearing codes and stuff like that and I didn’t really know quite what they were. But between 2 and 2:30, it really started ramping up. I started hearing calls over the scanners of one victim shot in the head, another victim shot in the back, so I knew that something was going on-a shooting. Didn’t know how serious it was until I started receiving phone calls from viewers that were very helpful and helping me determine, like, how serious things were getting. My first viewer phone call was about 2:31, and it was a man who was telling me that there were two people shot on Orange and Michigan and later finding out where the shooting was I’m not sure if that was really close in the vicinity to where it was, to Pulse nightclub, but at that time I just assumed that we had a shooting in Orlando and at least two victims.”
“It was at 2:45 when I had just received the phone call of someone claiming to be the Orlando shooter. I answered the phone as I always do, ‘News 13 this is Matt,’ and on the other end I heard, ‘Do you know about the shooting?’ and I said ‘Yup, I’m getting information — I’m receiving some calls right now’ and he cut me off and said, ‘I’m the shooter.’ I didn’t know what to say, it was alarming to say the least. He sounded really calm on the phone and he started saying that he did it for the Islamic State — he did it for ISIS, and then he started speaking in a foreign language which at the time, being in Orlando, I thought it was maybe Spanish. But he was speaking so fast I didn’t know what it was, and thinking back now it was most likely Arabic, that he was speaking. I said ‘Sir, sir can you please speak in English?’ and then he started saying ‘I did it for ISIS, I did it for the Islamic State’ again. I didn’t know what to say to him. I was just blown away, and I asked him ‘Who is this? Where are you?’ and he told me that’s none of my effing business. He wouldn’t tell me who he was, he wouldn’t tell me where he was, but he wanted me to know that he did this for ISIS, he did this shooting for the Islamic State.”
Interviewer: “At that point, how did the conversation end?”
Matthew Gentili: “The conversation ended with me asking him, ‘Is there anything that you want to say, other than you did it for ISIS?’ and then he said no and hung up the phone, and that was it.
Interviewer: “What did you hear in the background? Did you hear anything in the background?
Matthew Gentili: “You know, when I think back, it’s really surprising, I heard nothing- I heard silence. I feel like if I would have heard sirens or anything in the background it would have been more telling to me, that, you know- how severe this call really was and I heard nothing, I heard nothing on the other end except from him.”
Interviewer: “What did you proceed to do next?”
Matthew Gentili: “Next, I received another call after that, from another viewer and this is when I realized that the call I just received prior was very serious. A viewer told me that a man shot up Pulse nightclub with an AK-47 and there were 20 people at least, dead. That’s when I started calling in April, our executive producer on the weekends. I started calling whoever I could get in touch with to get people in. After that, I tried reaching out to police and their non-emergency line was busy I’m sure with as many calls as they got. That was it.”
Interviewer: “So what were you feeling, let’s say emotionally?”
Matthew Gentili: “Emotionally, I knew it was very serious, so all I felt was the adrenaline and the pressure of knowing that there was a potential terrorist attack and at the time it was an active shooting, like he was actively out there, so I was just worried for everyone out there and I was worried even for the crew that was coming in to the station because I realized how close our station is to the vicinity, I mean within a mile and a half from Pulse nightclub.”
“I don’t really know, I was just more wanting to know if it really was him. When we finally found out that the shooter was from Port St. Lucie, I had previously in the morning done an area code check for the number that I got, and it had matched that area code. That’s when I knew, like oh my God, that was real, that was really him, that was a real call. That was just shocking. I mean, in news, every time I pick up the phone I know that potentially on the other line it could be someone calling about a serious story or an emergency, and when you get someone calling and wanting to tell you why they did a shooting, it’s just … crazy. There’s no other way to put it into words.”