This Armored Vehicle Punched Hole in Wall to Save Orlando Club Patrons

A BearCat similar to one used by the Orlando, Florida, Police SWAT team to end the killings at a night club on Jan. 11 is shown here in a photo from the website of manufacturer Lenco Armored Vehicles of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.A BearCat similar to one used by the Orlando, Florida, Police SWAT team to end the killings at a night club on Jan. 11 is shown here in a photo from the website of manufacturer Lenco Armored Vehicles of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

One of the most critical pieces of equipment used to end the slaughter at the Orlando, Florida nightspot this past weekend was a BearCat, an armored vehicle that police used to ram a hole in the club wall.

Once officers punched through they set off a controlled detonation to distract or stun the shooter, afterwards identified as Omar Mateen, a self-professed follower of the Islamic State terrorist organization. Almost instantly, then, club patrons crawled and raced through the exit.

Mateen, who killed at least 50 people in The Pulse, a popular gay nightclub, was shot and killed by SWAT team members as he exited the club firing.

BearCat is an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck, a military-styled truck built in Pittsfield, Massachusetts by Lenco Armored Vehicles, whose other products include a variant of the MRAP.

“It does look militaristic, but it’s designed for law enforcement,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina told the Orlando Sentinel in an interview in 2014. “We don’t use these vehicles for riots or any type of crowd control.”

On its website Lenco includes a number of stories in which police departments have used BearCats in a number of standoffs, including one earlier this year between Georgia sheriff’s deputies and a Ku Klux Klansman.

Though Mina said the BearCat is designed for law enforcement, Lenco markets its various armored vehicles to police and military, including foreign militaries.

According to The Washington Post, Mina said he was against obtaining surplus U.S. military vehicles for his department because of the costs associated with maintaining them. But he said that two years ago that he wanted a new, $230,000 BearCat to replace an aging tactical vehicle in his department.

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Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.