AFRICANGLOBE – A survivor of one of America’s worst mass shooting to date has spoken for the first time of what occurred when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in the club, killing 49 people and injuring 53.
Speaking from a wheelchair at a press conference yesterday afternoon (June 14), Patience Carter, 20 revealed how the gunman promised not to shoot Black hostages because they had “been through enough”.
Carter was holidaying in Orlando with her best friend’s family when she, her friend Tiara Parker, also 20, and Parker’s cousin, Akyra Murray, 18, decided to go to Pulse nightclub.
Just moments after Parker ordered an Uber to take the girls back to the hotel, Mateen stormed the club.
“We went from having the time of our lives to the worst night of our lives in a matter of minutes,” Carter said.
Both Carter and Murray immediately dropped to the ground and crawled out the door before they realised that their third companion was missing.
They rushed back inside amid gunfire and found Parker and took cover in a bathroom with a group of other people.
“It still wasn’t real to me yet — I was still Snapchatting after we squeezed into the stall,” Carter said.
Soon after they got into the stall Mateen entered the bathroom and began firing shots.
Carter was shot in both legs, Parker in the side, and Murray was shot fatally in the arm.
“Bodies were piled on top of each other on the toilet seat,” she said. “There were handprints on everything, and blood.”
Mateen reportedly stopped shooting and asked, “Are there any Black people in here?”
Carter said that she was too terrified to reply, but a Black man in a bathroom stall answered, “Yes, there are about six or seven of us.”
Mateen then added, “You know, I don’t have a problem with Black people. This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.”
The shooter then called 911 from the bathroom, allegedly telling the dispatcher that he was carrying out his attack in the name of ISIS because he wanted the United States to stop bombing his country, according to Carter.
The gunman was born in New York, but his parents are from Afghanistan.
Carter, who is originally from Philadelphia said Mateen had multiple conversations with the remaining people in the bathroom until the police opened fire, blowing open the bathroom wall, and the room started flooding with water from burst pipes.
She said she “made peace with God within myself,” and prayed for her pain to stop.
“I said, ‘God, if this is how I have to go, please take me, I just don’t want any more shots’,” she told reporters. “I didn’t want to feel any more pain.”
Parker and Carter were found by police and transported to the hospital in separate ambulances.
Murray was the youngest of the 49 people killed by Mateen.
The 18-year-old recently graduated from high school and was on vacation with her friends and family.
“I saw her phone so I picked it up because I thought I would be able to give it back to her once we got to the hospital,” Carter said as she began to cry.
“Her mother told me not to blame myself, but it’s hard.”
At the press conference, Carter was in tears as she read a poem she wrote about surviving the shooting. “The guilt of feeling lucky to be alive is heavy,” she said as she read the lines she’d written the previous night.