Police used a BearCat armored vehicle to bust through a brick wall during the massacre at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub in June 2016. It was used after two failed attempts to breech the wall with explosives. Once the BearCat broke through, officers set off flash explosions to distract the lone shooter. Almost instantly, club patrons crawled and raced to escape through the exit.
BearCat (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck) is an armored military-styled truck built in Pittsfield, Massachusetts by Lenco Armored Vehicles.
“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.”
Two years ago, Mina obtained a brand new, $230,000 BearCat to replace an Armet F550 Tactical Transporter that Orlando bought in 2006 for $92,000. In an interview with 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. An armored personnel carrier the Orlando department acquired from the military in the late 1990s — dubbed the “Peacekeeper” — requires substantial maintenance and hadn’t been used in years. Mina told the Sentinel he’s sensitive to the perception of military-style equipment. But armored vehicles can be used during hostage negotiations, or to rescue officers or civilians pinned down by gunfire—a view, unfortunately, proven true during the recent tragedy.
In addition to the BearCat, which is designed for law enforcement, Lenco markets various armored vehicles to police and military, including foreign militaries.