(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Survivors of the Orlando, Florida massacre are speaking out about the terrifying moments in which they came face-to-face with killer Omar Mateen, also explaining their reaction to the deadly events at Pulse nightclub Sunday morning.
Twenty-year-old victim Tiara Parker, who was preparing to leave the club with her cousin Akyra Murray and friend Patience Carter when the gunfire started, said, “I was standing, just kind of looking around and nervous. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Parker and the other two young women were caught in the chaos and headed to the restroom seeking refuge.
Mateen “tilted over and kind of looked at me; must have thought I died with my eyes open and I kind of kept staring, thought in my mind he was going to shoot me in the face,” Parker told ABC News.
Parker said Murray, 18, who died in the attack while visiting from Philadelphia, attempted to negotiate with the gunman. Parker recalled her cousin’s words, “Stop, we’re hurt, we’re already hit, like don’t … like please leave us alone.”
Their friend Carter, a college student and aspiring singer also visiting from Philadelphia, told ABC’s Orlando affiliate WFTV, “I got shot in my leg and I was actually pinned under the person who was laying right next to me. So it was very painful and we laid there for hours and hours.”
Carter emotionally explained that the body was shielding her from being shot further and potentially killed.
“If it wasn’t for that person shielding me, it would’ve been me shot, and I wouldn’t be sitting here today to talk about it,” she said.
Despite Murray’s bravery during the unimaginable disaster, the recent high school graduate was among the 49 killed Sunday morning.
In her emotional interview, Parker cried, remembering her cousin’s strength during such a paralyzing situation: “That girl fought her way through the whole way,” adding that “up until the end, it was like she lived long enough to see that I was OK.”
Another survivor of the attack, 21-year-old Alejandro Francisco, wrote an open letter to the suspect on ‘xoJane’ calling the shooting “… the worst attack – on love – on U.S. soil.”
“I felt so lucky, but then at the same time I felt so guilty because I wish I had the opportunity to jump in front of a bullet for somebody else,” he told ABC News.
Francisco had just left Pulse when he heard gunshots ringing inside.
“We started hearing gunshots, there was people running all over the place, there was blood. It was crazy,” he said.
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