herald

Thursday 29 September 2016

Orlando gunman laughed as he fired on trapped victims

A woman at a vigil holds a photo of her friend Christopher Sanfeliz, who was killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Picture: David McNew/Getty Images
A woman at a vigil holds a photo of her friend Christopher Sanfeliz, who was killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Picture: David McNew/Getty Images

A survivor of the massacre inside an Orlando nightclub has described the gunman laughing as he shot victims trapped in a toilet cubicle.

Norman Casiano (26) was shot four times but has since been discharged from hospital in Florida. He had gone to Pulse on Saturday night to celebrate a friend's birthday and was among 300 people inside when Omar Mateen opened fire.

"I heard the first two gunshots, I automatically just threw myself down to a floor," he told Local 10 News. Mr Casiano crawled into a nearby bathroom and into a disabled cubicle where around a dozen people were already cowering, closing the door in an effort to hide themselves.

He described people weeping and holding each other as they heard the gunshots getting closer, before a man stumbled into the bathroom and collapsed on the floor.

Begging

"He's bleeding everywhere and he's begging to come inside the stall, we're trying to get him in but he wouldn't fit underneath and we couldn't open the door," Mr Casiano said.

"Five seconds pass by and the assailant came in and shot him one last time."

Struggling to hold back tears, he said he watched the man die on the floor as victims begged Mateen not to kill them.

"The scary part was that he didn't say anything, and what's scarier than that, when he shot the boy that was already shot, he laughed and as he's laughing that's when he fires through the whole front of the stall," Mr Casiano said.

"We're yelling at him, being like 'please, please don't do this, you don't want to do this, just spare us, we didn't see you, we can't tell anybody', I guess that enticed him more.

"He put his gun over the stall and willy-nilly fired and that's when I got (shot on) this side…I just heard him laugh, then he disappeared into the other room and kept going."

Mr Casiano had to climb over the bodies of Mateen's victims to get out of the bathroom and be taken to safety by police.

Mateen was trapped in another bathroom after officers stormed the club, holding hostages for three hours until Swat teams blew a hole in the wall and shot the gunman dead in the ensuring battle.

At least 49 people were killed and 53 injured in the attack, which was the worst mass shooting in US history.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News