'I'm next. I'm dead.' - Orlando shooting survivor recounts horror

A survivor of the Orlando nightclub massacre recounts the harrowing moments of the shooting rampage, saying he watched the shooter come back to kill people he had already wounded.
Gunshot survivor Angel Colon listens to remarks at a news conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Center on the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 14, 2016.
Gunshot survivor Angel Colon listens to remarks at a news conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Center on the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Gunshot survivor Angel Colon is surrounded by family as he listens to remarks at a news conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Center on the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 14, 2016.
Gunshot survivor Angel Colon is surrounded by family as he listens to remarks at a news conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Center on the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 14, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Lying wounded on the floor of Pulse nightclub, with a gunman continuing to fire bullets into the motionless bodies of patrons all around him, Angel Colon thought it was his turn to die.

With three bullets in his leg, which was shattered as desperate clubgoers trampled him, he was unable to run to safety.

And Omar Mateen, who had sprayed the popular nightclub in Orlando with bullets before briefly moving to another part of the venue, was heading back in his direction.

"All I could do was just lay down there while everyone was just running on top of me trying to get to where they had to be," Colon recounted on Tuesday (June 14), alongside the emergency medical personnel he credited with saving his life.

"And all I could hear was the shots going one after another, and people screaming, people yelling for help," he told reporters.

Two days after 49 people were killed and dozens of others grievously injured in America's deadliest mass shooting. Colon, his voice quivering, recalled how a festive evening out with friends turned into unfathomable horror early Sunday.

He spoke at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where survivors recounted the terror and tragedy of the shooting at Pulse, one of the city's top gay clubs, as well as the heroism of the medical staff that struggled to cope early Sunday with the sudden flood of gunshot victims.

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"We were just having a great time. We were all just there having a drink. It was shortly after two o'clock. We were saying our good-byes. I'm hugging everyone. It was a great night," Colon recounted.

"No drama, just smiles, just laughter." A short time before the club was due to close, the shooting started. Colon was hit in the leg.

"I was shot about three times in my leg, so I had fallen down. I tried to get back up, but everyone started running anywhere. I got trampled over, and I shattered and broke my bones on my left leg. So by this time I couldn't walk at all," he said.

 

He briefly thought he had escaped death, when the shooter turned his weapons on victims in another part of the club.

"He goes into the other room, and I can just hear more shots going on. I thought I was a little safe at this time because, you know, it's giving everyone time to tackle him down or get him down," he said.

"Unfortunately, I hear him come back, and he's shooting everyone that's already dead on the floor. Making sure they're dead," Colon said.

"I can hear the (gunshots) closer, and I look over and he shoots the girl next to me. And I'm just there laying down. I'm thinking, 'I'm next. I'm dead.'"

The gunman shoots the already wounded Colon twice more, but somehow, the survivor said, "by the glory of God, he shoots towards my head but it hits my hand.

"Then he shoots me again and it hits the side of my hip," he recalled.

Colon was careful not to give away the fact that, despite having a half-dozen bullets lodged in his body, he was not dead.

"I had no reaction. I was just prepared to just stay there laying down so he won't know that I'm alive," he said.

"And he's just doing this for another five, ten minutes. He's just shooting all over the place."

The shooting continued, Colon said, until police who burst into the building traded fire with the gunman and rescued the survivors, three hours after the start of the ordeal.

Colon said a police officer dragged him to safety - through broken glass.

"The floor is just covered in glass. So he's dragging me out while I'm just getting cut - my behind, my back, my legs," Colon said.

"I don't feel pain, but I just feel all this blood on me from myself, from my other people."