One of the survivors of the nightclub shooting says she went from having the time of her life with her friends to the worst night of her life in a matter of minutes.
Twenty-year-old Patience Carter was partying with her friends Akyra Murray, 18, and Tiara Parker, at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida Saturday night when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire and killed 49 revelers in the gay club – including Murray, the youngest victim.
During a press conference on Tuesday at Florida Hospital Orlando, Carter recalled her memories of the shooting, read a poem about her survivor’s guilt and revealed previously unreported details about how the gunman – including the fact that he promised not to shoot any black people because they had ‘suffered enough’.
Carter, a college student in Philadelphia, says she was on vacation with Murray and Parker’s family (Murray and Parker are cousins), and that Murray’s parents dropped them off at the club that night for a girl’s night out.
It was around 2am when the first gunshots were heard. At first, Parker says she thought the noise was some over-the-top way the club owners were trying to get everyone to leave.
‘I was so confused. I was like, ‘Wow, a club would do all of this just to get people to leave their club?” she said. ‘I thought it was a BB gun at first, or the DJ playing some sound of gunshots. I didn’t think they were actually real gunshots.’
Nonetheless, Carter says the noise prompted a physical response and she dropped to the floor.
On the floor, she noticed her friends running to the bar, while she started reflexively scooting backwards – not aware that she was actually crawling out the exit.
Murray noticed where Carter was going and ran over from the bar to join Carter exiting the building.
Once they reached the safety outside, they realized that Parker didn’t make it out of the building so they decided to risk both of their lives and reenter the club.
What makes Carter feel so guilty is that Murray was later shot and bled out from her injuries, and may have survived if only she had told her to stay outside while she went back in to get their friend.
Back inside the club, the three friends reunited and then sought shelter with some other men in a handicapped bathroom stall.
Mateen was quick to follow the victims into the bathroom though, and started unleashing a barrage of bullets – striking the man that had closed the door to their stall.
‘We were all scrambling around in the bathroom, screaming at the top of our lungs,’ Carter recalled.
Carter’s friend Murray (pictured), the youngest victim of the shooting, was shot early on and bled out while she was help hostage for three hours +14
Carter’s friend Murray (pictured), the youngest victim of the shooting, was shot early on and bled out while she was help hostage for three hours.
It was when Mateen stopped and left that she realized that she had been hit in the leg, and that her friends were shot too.
‘At that point we knew that this wasn’t a game. This was very real and this was something that was really happening to us right now.
‘It was a shock. We went from having the time of our lives to the worst night of our lives all within a matter of minutes,’ Carter said.
Carter says Mateen did eventually return to their stall and that they feared he was going to shoot them again.
But this time he called out and asked if there were any black people hiding behind the doors.
Carter was too afraid to respond, but another black person did, giving an affirmative.
Surprisingly, that caused Mateen to put away his weapon.
‘I don’t have a problem with black people,’ Mateen reportedly said. ‘This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.’
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