Orlando PD Honors Leica Geosystems’ Frank Hahnel for Assisting with Pulse Nightclub Shooting Investigation

On May 4, 2017, the Orlando Police Department formally recognized the actions of the many men and women who responded to what Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer described as “the most horrific attack, the most heinous day, the most devastating day in our city’s history.”

Less than one year earlier, a 29-year-old male entered the crowded Pulse nightclub shortly after 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, 2016. The gunman, who later identified himself as an Islamic soldier, opened fire with semi-automatic weapons, killing 49 and injuring more than 50 others. SWAT officers shot and killed the gunman around 5:30 a.m. following a three-hour hostage standoff. In the interim hours, a multitude of officers, agencies and hospitals sprang into action to save lives and render aid. “During that night, there were many brave and courageous acts, not only by police officers but by citizens,” said Orlando Chief of Police John Mina, “and those acts and actions need to be recognized.”Pulse Recognition Ceremony 05

Among the citizens honored at the OPD Pulse Recognition Ceremony was metro-Orlando resident and Leica Geosystems’ Public Safety Account Manager-Northeast Frank Hahnel III. Hahnel received the Chief’s Special Award for assisting in mapping of the scene of the crime, which officials have described as an act of terror and a hate crime.

This is not the first award Hahnel has received from the OPD. In 2010, he was given the department’s Good Citizen award for scanning the 2009 Gateway Plaza workplace shooting crime scene. Since then, Hahnel has established a close working relationship with the OPD.

At the time of the 2016 Pulse attack, Hahnel was vacationing at a beach house with his terminally ill wife, Khira, and their children. “We were enjoying what little time we had left of our family being together and Khira being alive,” Hahnel said.

Around 8 a.m., Hahnel was woken by his family with news of the mass shooting. On his phone, a text from CSI Karen Livengood, of the OPD, asked how fast he could get there. “I left knowing that not only did I have the full support of my wife and family,” he said, “but I also had the full Leica Geosystems company standing with me.”

Hahnel arrived at the scene with two Leica ScanStation PS40 3D laser scanning systems, including extra batteries, a Pro Charger base station, tripods, and rolling base. “I handed off one of my PS40s to Karen Livengood, and I ran the second scanner,” Frank said. “The OPD utilized their Leica C10 on the inside of the crime scene.”

Pulse shootingHahnel admits it was not easy to render aid in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub massacre. “This terrorist attack caused me to have a panic attack while I was there,” he said. Several times, he was doubled over and close to passing out. “Even with all of that going on,” Hahnel said, “I keep pressing forward because I knew the job needed to be done—and it needed to be done perfectly.”

As a result of Leica’s two additional ScanStations and Hahnel’s hands-on assistance, the CSI team was able to map the scene in less than one day. “We then used the combination of PS40s and the C10 to create an overall 3D point cloud of the entire crime scene,” he said, “including the exterior of the building and the areas where triages were setup to take care of critically wounded people.”

The Pulse nightclub incident was not Hahnel’s first exposure to the aftermath of terror. After the September 11th attacks, he aided the Army Corps of Engineers at Ground Zero in New York and the FBI at the Pentagon. He later assisted the NYPD and FBI with the laser scanning of the debris piles from Ground Zero at the Fresh Kills Landfill. “Tragically, the number of lives lost in the Pulse nightclub massacre has made it the second worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11,” Hahnel said. “I’m just thankful to have been in a position to help my community and the brave men and women of the OPD.”

Click here to view the full OPD Pulse Recognition ceremony.

To learn more about high-accuracy mapping solutions for law enforcement and crime scene investigation, contact the Leica Geosystems PSG team.

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About the author: Wendy Lyons is a freelance writer living in Canton, Georgia. Lyons was introduced to geomatics through her work as associate editor for the nation’s leading land surveying magazine. She now focuses on laser scanning and other geospatial measurement solutions for public safety professionals.