One of the survivors of the Orlando nightclub shooting, 20-year-old Patience Carter, spoke about her harrowing experience Tuesday from Florida Hospital Orlando, where she is recovering from a gunshot wound.
Carter says she and a group of friends arrived in Orlando from Philadelphia the night before, having never been to the city or the state of Florida before. They decided to hit up Pulse nightclub and were enjoying their night out when gunfire erupted early Sunday morning. She says one of her friends was killed and another was also shot and has more severe injuries.
She described hearing gunman Omar Mateen’s calls to 911, and his explanation to the dispatcher that he was shooting because he wanted America to stop bombing his country. (Mateen was born in Queens, N.Y. but his parents were born in Afghanistan.) Carter says he spoke in Arabic and pledged his allegiance to ISIS.
A survivor mentioned that during the shooting, Mateen expressed that he had “no problem” with Black people. Carter, who was in the same bathroom, offers more details about that particular exchange.
“He said are there any Black people in here,” Carter recalled. “I was too afraid to answer, but there was an African-American male in the stall where the majority of my body was, and he said, ‘Yes, there are about six or seven of us.’ And the gunman responded back to him saying, ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with Black people. This is about my country. You guys have suffered enough.’ He made a statement saying this wasn’t about Black people, the reason why he was doing this.”
Carter also described a person that she didn’t know shielding her from being hit as the hostage situation came to a close and the gunman was killed by police.
Before telling her story, Carter read a poem that she had written Monday night to help her heal. Among the lines: “Looking at the blood and debris covered on everyone’s faces; looking at the gunman’s feet under the stall as he paces. The guilt of being lucky to be alive is heavy.”