Survivors of Pulse nightclub massacre find out friend's mom died

Police restrict access at Orlando Regional Medical Hospital

ORLANDO, Fla. – At Orlando Regional Medical Center, Angel Torres (pictured below) said he still couldn't believe he survived the Pulse nightclub massacre.

The 23-year-old walked out to the club's yard area to smoke a cigarette with Nick Perez. When they heard the "pop, pop, pop," Torres ran for cover behind the outside bar and Perez ran to the back.

"Something told me to go and jump the fence, and then I started running, " Torres said. 

Torres and Perez hugged when they reunited at the Orlando Regional Medical Hospital, where their injured friends were being treated. It was at the hospital's waiting room where they learned their friend's mom, Brenda Marquez, had died.

"She was so cool. She came out with us and her son to have a good time," Perez said. "This all feels so surreal. I can't believe it happened."

Marquez's name has not appeared on an official list victim's list. 

Perez said Marquez's family set up a GoFundMe account. He and Torres left the hospital -- where they were waiting for news on friends who were undergoing surgeries -- to comfort Marquez's family.

"We are going to do what we can," Perez said.

The families of other victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre stayed behind at the waiting room.

Orlando police officers restricted access to the hospital. Security guards checked hospital guests for weapons with handheld metal detectors.

At a waiting area, several families and friends waited for news. The hospital was treating about 46 who were injured during the nightclub shooting.

"Everything is going to be fine," a woman told a group of relatives who were waiting for news on Cory Connell,21.

Police officers picked him up at the parking lot and brought him to ORMC, a relative said. Connell's family arrived at the hospital about 9 a.m. About 10 hours later, they hadn't been able find him.

Amanda Connell, 18, was supposed to go with her brother to a nightclub near Pulse. But the plans failed through about midnight. Her brother, Cory Connell, 21, called and said, "I love you." She responded, "I love you too."

Hours later, he was walking to his car when he walked past the gunman who was on his way to Pulse. That was when he and his girlfriend, Paula Blanco, got shot. She left in an ambulance and was in stable condition.

An officer put him in a police cruise and brought him to ORMC, where hospital staff couldn't tell relatives his condition or his whereabouts.

"I'm scared, sick, emotional, mad at the gunman," Amanda Connell, who had just celebrated her high school graduation with her brother. 

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.