ORLANDO, Fla. – As victims were gunned down at Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, one survivor hid in a bathroom stall, then played dead when the shooter walked in.
The gunman, Omar Mateen, opened fire inside Pulse around 2 a.m., killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others, before he was shot and killed by police.
Orlando Torres, a club promoter, survived. He shared his terrifying experience with WJXT Wednesday.
"We quickly heard pow pow pow pow," Torres said.
Torres said he first heard shots being fired while he was inside the bathroom at Pulse with a friend.
"And my friend and I look at each other and then a few seconds later, we heard the same thing. I said, 'That doesn't sound right. Something is going on out there,'" Torres said.
So they used the stall as a safe place. Torres said he and his friend sat on the toilet bowl so the shooter couldn't see them.
"I coached her, 'Let's sit on the toiler bowl, lay down.' Prop her feet up here and I kept that door closed with my feet," Torres said.
But as they hid, more frantic clubgoers ran into the bathroom. Torres said he fell through the door. And as the shooter came in, Torres said he saw him wash the blood off his hands and talk on the phone, saying this over and over, "America needs to stop bombing Isis and Syria."
With nowhere to go, Torres played dead.
"And I laid there. And I heard him walking toward my side and I felt a poke on my left, my right cheek," Torres said. "I just did no budge."
Torres survived, but he lost more than 20 friends in the attack. He said the past few days have been tough.
"We're going to move forward. We are a loving community here, all ethnicities, races. It doesn't matter what you are. We all hurt the same, we all bleed the same. Whether it's gay or straight, we are just loving people," Torres said.
Torres said he has been promoting events at Pulse for years and felt like it was a very safe place.
He said he knew where the exits were, but it was dark, loud and chaotic and that's why so many people didn't make it out.