Philadelphia Orlando Survivor Patience Carter Recounts Night of Tragedy
Patience Carter lay in a hospital chair Tuesday, surrounded by enrapt reporters during a news conference in an Orlando hospital, as she told details of the night she begged to die.
It had been just two days prior – early in the morning on June 12th, to be exact – when a gunman rampaged Pulse, a popular LGBTQ Orlando nightclub where she and her two friends chose to spend what was her second ever evening in Florida and their first night of a summer trip.
Carter said the hours before the massacre had been “the most beautiful bonding experience any three girls could have on their first night out on vacation.” She and her friends, Tiara Parker and Akyra Murray, spent the night dancing and mingling with other clubgoers during the club’s Latin night event.
But the trio heard gunshots just as they ordered an Uber to leave around 2 a.m., Carter told reporters. Omar Mateen, 29, had entered and opened fire in the nightclub (patrons of which said he frequented), eventually killing 49 and wounding 53. It was, as many know by now, the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Carter said the three were inside the nightclub when she heard the gunshots and dropped to the floor. At first, she thought the DJ was playing the noises to get people to leave. She and Murray made it outside the nightclub to its patio, she said, but she wanted to go back inside for Parker, who had become separated from them.
Once Carter and Murray were back inside the club, all three friends ran for the bathroom. What was happening seemed so unreal, Carter said, she was “even Snapchatting in the bathroom stall.” Other panicked people entered, Carter said. Then, so did Mateen.
The shooter fired in the bathroom, killing many and spraying blood everywhere, including the stall where Carter was wedged. She was shot in the leg. At that point, Carter said, Mateen made an eerily calm 911 call before leaving the stall, firing more gunshots in the club and then returning to the bathroom.
He kept shooting. Carter said he shot people in front of her, including one person who shielded her from additional gunshots. Eventually, around 5 a.m., a SWAT team burst into the building through a wall and killed Mateen.
Before she was free, Carter said she “made peace with God.”
“Just please take me,” Carter said. “I don’t want any more. I was just begging God to take the soul out my body.”
A SWAT team member picked Carter up and took her out of Pulse, she said. Her friend, Murray, an 18-year-old Philly-native basketball star who had just graduated, had died in the bathroom beside her. Parker was wounded but survived.
Carter joins a number of survivors of the shooting who are sharing their stories.
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