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Pulse survivor issues trigger warning after graphic video released during trial

'I was there. You don't want to see that,' Tony Marrero says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Pulse shooting survivor Tony Marrero has a message for anyone who thinks they want to see what happened inside the nightclub on June 12, 2016: you don't.

Marrero, 31, was shot four times in the back. The bullets just missed his major organs.

Marrero posted a video on Facebook Thursday after federal prosecutors showed graphic video during the trial of the Pulse gunman's widow. Noor Salman, 31, is on trial for allegedly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. She is accused of helping her husband Omar Mateen prepare for the mass shooting and for allegedly lying to the FBI.

Assistant U.S. attorneys showed the jury surveillance video of Mateen gunning down club patrons to prove the shooting was a terrorist attack.

Marrero is encouraging anyone who comes across the video to not share it on social media, or anywhere, saying it is painful for those who survived the shooting where 49 were killed and more than 50 others were injured.

"It has happened before. I come across stuff that you guys share and it really hits me and triggers me," Marrero said in the video.

In September 2016, Marrero went on "The Ellen Show" and told his story of survival and the last moments he saw his friend 22-year-old Luis Vielma alive.

“Me and Luis we just looked at each other and we just hit the ground and that’s the last time I saw him,” Marrero said on "Ellen."

[Watch Marrero's video message below]

Please. Think before you hit the share button. If you’re gonna share something SHARE THIS to raise awareness of the situation and help fellow survivors, their families and victims of the Pulse tragedy. Show love, support and respect. Thank you!

Posted by Tony Marrero on Thursday, March 15, 2018

During the trial family and friends of survivors and victims have been in the courtroom, as has Pulse owner Barbara Poma. Before any graphic evidence is played U.S. District Judge Paul Byron offers the chance for any people in the gallery to leave. Byron also has to approve every piece of evidence admitted in court.

“I don’t know what human being, right in their mind, would love to see videos and footage of what happened that night inside the club,” Marrero said. "I was there you don’t want to see that. Trust me, you don’t want to see that."

News 6 legal expert attorney Whitney Boan said although the evidence is horrible, the U.S. prosecution team doesn't have any other choice to prove their case.

"They do have to put on evidence to show that there was an act of terrorism, in order to be able to show the elements in the offense, to show that she did aid and abet in the act of terrorism," Boan said.

To do that, they have to show it occurred in the first place, Boan said.

The video and photos shown in court Thursday had never been seen by the public before. Some victims family members told News 6 the reason they are going to the trial is for answers about what happened that night.

"I think a lot of victims have been left in the dark because the investigation has been ongoing, so a lot of this is information they are going to see for the first time that maybe they will be looking for and not having a chance to see until now," Boan said.

Resources are available for anyone feeling affected by the rehashing of the mass shooting during the trial.

The LGBT Center on Mills Avenue in Orlando offers different support group meetings seven days a week. After Pulse, the counseling group Somos Orlando was formed to help the Hispanic community heal. It has a variety of mental health services and resources available.

The Orlando United Assistance Center, which offers support to survivors, victims’ families and the community, has a hotline available 24/7. Anyone feeling affected by the trial or at any time can call 407-500-HOPE. The center offers mental health resources and counseling services.


About the Author:

Emilee Speck

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News. Emilee is a Space Coast native and graduate of the University of North Florida journalism program.

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