Patience Carter said she and her friends ended up at the Pulse nightclub because of a Google map suggestion to visit the popular gay destination.
Traveling from Philadelphia, Carter, 20, and her friends arrived at the nightclub shortly after midnight. This was Carter’s first time in Florida, first time in Orlando and first time at Pulse.
“It was the most beautiful bonding experience any three girls can have on their first night out on vacation,” Carter said at a news conference at Florida Hospital Orlando on Tuesday.
Carter described how moments after she and her friends planned to leave the club Sunday, the gunshots began. Carter said one of her friends was killed and another severely injured when suspected gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the club early Sunday. The massacre left 49 dead and dozens injured.
Carter, who suffered a gunshot wound to her leg, said the gunman specifically told his victims that his motivation for the shooting was because he wanted America to stop bombing his country. Mateen was born in New York and his parents were born in Afghanistan.
Patience Carter read a poem during a news conference at Florida Hospital Orlando on Tuesday, saying “the guilt of being alive is heavy.” Video by PBS NewsHour
Although President Barack Obama didn’t identify the shooter on Monday, he said investigators were looking into how an “angry, disturbed, unstable young man” became radicalized.
FBI officials had said Mateen called 911 dispatchers and pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group before the attack. Carter said she witnessed Mateen pledging allegiance to ISIS that night.
Prior to her recounting the details of early Sunday morning, Carter read a statement, saying “the guilt of being alive is heavy.”
“As the world mourns the victims killed and viciously slain, I feel guilty about screaming about my legs and pain because I can feel nothing,” Carter tearfully said. “Like the other 49 who weren’t so lucky to feel this pain of mine.”