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Orlando massacre: Survivor relives gun horror

Angel Conlon tells how he was shot multiple times as NI sends messages of support

By AP and Cate McCurry

Published 15/06/2016

Angel Colon, a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting
Angel Colon, a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting
Crowds gather at Belfast City Hall to remember those who died in the Orlando massacre
Crowds gather at Belfast City Hall to remember those who died in the Orlando massacre
Crowds gather at Belfast City Hall to remember those who died in the Orlando massacre
William, Duke of Cambridge looks on as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, signs a book of condolence at the US Embassy in London yesterday morning
First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness sign a book of condolence at Belfast City Hall
First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness sign a book of condolence at Belfast City Hall

A survivor of the Orlando massacre has told how the gunman walked through the club shooting people a second time to "make sure they were dead".

Seated in a wheelchair and with his voice at times breaking with emotion, Angel Colon (below right) said he thought he would be killed after Omar Mateen took aim at him.

"(I thought) 'I'm next, I'm dead'," said Mr Colon, speaking at a press conference at the Orlando Regional Medical Centre.

The 26-year-old said he was set to leave the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of Sunday having enjoyed himself with his friends. "It was a great night, no drama, just smiles," he added.

And then, in an instant, came the sound of shooting that simply "kept going".

Mr Colon was shot several times in the leg. He tried to get up from the floor to run, but was unable to do so. Instead, he lay there, trying to remain still and avoid the attention of the killer.

"All I could do was lay down there while everyone was running on top of me, trying to get to where they had to be," he said. "All I could hear was the shots, one after another. People screaming. People yelling for help."

It was one of several remarkable stories of survival made public after 29-year-old Mateen stormed the nightclub with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, killing 49 people and injuring more than 40 others.

Mr Colon said the gunman shot a woman next to him, after which he pretended to be dead, only for the attacker to continue firing around him, hitting him in the hand and in the hip.

"I'm just there laying down and I'm thinking, 'I'm next, I'm dead'," Mr Colon said. "I don't know how, but by the glory of God, he shoots toward my head and it hits my hand. And he shoots me again and hits the side of my hip."

Mr Colon said he was eventually able to escape when Mateen was confronted by armed police at the front of the club. An officer was able to enter a breach that SWAT teams made in the building and carried him out.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the FBI is investigating reports that Mateen was a regular at the gay nightclub where he carried out America's worst mass shooting.

Pulse patrons came forward to say that they had seen the American-born Muslim there a number of times, and that he had been using gay dating apps.

Mateen had a wife and a three-year-old son.

Jim Van Horn (71) said Mateen was a regular at the club. "He was trying to pick up people. Men," he claimed.

While acknowledging he did not know Mateen well, Mr Van Horn said: "I think it's possible that he was trying to deal with his inner demons, of trying to get rid of his anger of homosexuality."

Yesterday, a vigil was held at Belfast City Hall to remember those killed in the atrocity. Large crowds listened to speakers outside, while LGBT pride flags were also displayed.

It came the day after the building was lit up in rainbow colours followed by the colours of the American flag. Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston led tributes locally, signing a book of condolences at City Hall.

Belfast Telegraph

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