ORLANDO, FL (WFLA) — A Winter Haven man who faked his death after he was shot by a gunman inside the Pulse nightclub spoke about the horrific ordeal during a news conference held by Orlando Regional Medical Center on Tuesday morning.
Angel Colon is the first hospitalized victim to speak about Sunday morning’s massacre at the nightclub.
“Some people are just so heartless,” he said before going on to describe what happened inside the nightclub. Colon recalled that he had a great time with friends that night and shortly after 2 a.m., he was hugging his friends and saying goodbye.
“Out of nowhere, we heard a shotgun,” he said. “It just kept going.”
Colon said he started to run away and was shot three times in the leg. He fell and tried to get up, but was trampled by others who were trying to escape the gunman’s bullets.
The gunfire broke bones in Colon’s left leg. “I couldn’t walk at all,” he said. “All I could hear was the shotgun… people crying for help.”
Colon said he heard gunfire as the shooter went into another room. Then he came back.
“He’s shooting everyone that’s already dead on the floor, making sure they’re dead,” Colon recalled.
Colon said the gunman then shot the girl next to him and he thought to himself, “I’m next. I’m dead.”
The gunman aimed at Colon’s head, but wound up shooting him in the hand. He then shot Colon in the hip. Colon said he continued to lay on the ground, so the shooter would think he was dead. Colon said he thought the gunman then went to another area where he was killed in a shootout with a SWAT team.
Colon said a police officer came to his rescue. The officer grabbed his hand and said the only way to get him out was to drag him. The officer then pulled Colon out of the nightclub, dragging him over glass that was on the ground from windows shattered by gunfire.
Colon said he wants to know who that officer was. “To this day I am grateful for him,” he said.
Colon suffered cuts as the officer pulled him out. “I didn’t feel pain, but I felt all this blood.” The officer dragged him near a Wendy’s restaurant and left him there. “I looked over and there were bodies everywhere,” Colon said.
The tearful Winter Haven man expressed his gratitude for the ORMC staff who cared for him at the hospital. “I will love you guys forever for doing that for me,” he said.
Doctors and surgeons also spoke at the news conference.
“We did not know what was about to hit us,” said ORMC Medical Director Gary Parrish when recalling the first patients that came in.
Doctors described how they responded to the many patients who arrived at the hospital in waves. One wave of patients arrived after the initial shooting.
“We thought maybe that would be it, but they were lining up in the hallway,” said Parrish. “They were being dropped off by the truckloads.”
The second wave of patients arrived after the gunman was killed and more victims could be rescued from the nightclub.
The hospital happens to be located close to the Pulse nightclub, which may have helped. “It is very fortunate that this happened two blocks away,” said ORMC Dr. Chadwick Smith, who, at times, forced back tears as he spoke during the news conference.
Despite the close location, the hospital staff still faced challenges. ORMC has an advanced EMS system that alerts the hospital about incoming patients. This allows hospital staff to prepare for patients and EMS crews to stabilize patients as they are transported.
But after the shooting, many patients were brought to the hospital in the back of pickup trucks, so there was no EMS communication or an opportunity for doctors and surgeons to prepare. Hospital staff had to assess patients as they arrived.
Some of the patients suffered grave injuries.
“Four to five patients came in that we were unable to save,” said Smith.
Hospital staff used all the supplies in the ER while responding to the first wave of patients. Supplies were brought over from hospitals affiliated with ORMC.
The doctors who spoke praised their co-workers for their calm, heroic professionalism. “When the task comes to hand, you just do what needs to be done,” said Chadwick.
A hospital spokesperson said that as of Tuesday morning, 27 shooting victims were still hospitalized. Of those, six are critically injured in the intensive care;five patients are hospitalized in guarded condition and 16 others are in stable condition.
Hospital staff believes additional shooting victims could show up at the ORMC. A spokesperson said that three victims left the scene after the shooting to try to get away from the gunman. They then went to ORMC-affiliated hospitals on their own.
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