Heroes in the Orlando shooting tell their stories

Ray Rivera, left, a D.J. at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend, outside of the Orlando Police Department after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at the nightclub, on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (Photo: Joe Burbank, AP)

ORLANDO, Fl. (CNN) – In the midst of horror and tragedy, heroes emerge from the crowd.

That was the case early Sunday morning when the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place in Orlando, leaving 49 dead and 53 wounded.
Out of this senseless act of violence, heroes rose to the call.
Heroes who put themselves in harm’s way to save others.
Heroes who were enjoying their night before chaos erupted.
Here are their stories.
Joshua McGill
Joshua McGill and his friends fled the Pulse nightclub after hearing multiple loud bangs. McGill hid behind a car in a parking lot when he noticed a man with multiple gunshot wounds to his arms and back.
The man was Rodney Sumter Jr., a 27 year-old bartender at the club. McGill, a nursing student, pulled Sumter behind the car and used his shirt to make a tourniquet on Sumter’s arms. Then he helped the man to a safe area and used the victim’s shirt to stop the bleeding on his back.
“I told him ‘Everything would be OK,'” the 26 year-old told CNN’s Don Lemon. “‘I got you, just calm down. I need to cut off as much blood as I can.'”
McGill rode with Sumter to the hospital to keep pressure on the wounds and help him stay calm and alert.
“‘I promise you, God’s got this. You’ll be OK,'” he recalled saying. “I was mainly scared. I was like ‘God, don’t make me break my promise.'”
McGill later learned Sumter was in stable condition.
Christopher Hansen
Saturday night was Christopher Hansen’s first time at Pulse. He was at the nightclub by himself and was zigzagging out of the club when he came across a young woman who was shot in the arm.
“I’m not going to leave these victims behind,” he told CNN’s New Day. “I wanted to make sure she was alert. I was not leaving her until she was assisted.”
Hansen also helped a club bartender and made sure she was safe while she searched for her girlfriend in the crowd.
Ray Rivera
Ray Rivera, a.k.a DJ Infinite, was the DJ at the nightclub on the patio. He told CNN’s Erin Burnett that it was around 2 a.m. and he was spinning some mellow reggae music to signal it was almost time for guests to leave. Then he heard a noise.
“So I kind of bring the music down a little bit,” he said, “And I heard it again and I turned the music all the way off. And I hear it again and that’s when everybody came barreling out to get out and was, you know, jumping over fences and stuff.”
He said a man and woman took cover beneath his DJ booth.
“The guy, he took off, and the girl was down there panicking, so I kind of told her she needed to be quiet. And as soon as there was a break in the shots, I kind of just pushed her and said, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ And we ran out the door and the cops were having us go around the corner where there were no bullets or anything.”
Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34, was one of the first victims identified in the mass shooting at Pulse.
He died trying to shield his boyfriend from a hail of bullets. Nicknamed “Tophat Eddie” for the black top hat he always wore, Sotomayor was a brand manager for the LGBTQ online travel agency ALandCHUCK.travel.
Friends flooded social media with their memories of Sotomayor.
“He was a kind and loving man,” said Jason Howell a friend of Sotamayor.
Samuel Maldonado
Samuel Maldonado had a table set up where he and his partner were selling fritters at the nightclub. When gunshots rang out, Maldonado and his partner hid under the table, which was covered by a black linen tablecloth.
“We literally saw people just running, and then we saw this young lady in blood and she just collapsed,” he told HLN’s Mike Galanos.
The shooter began walking towards the courtyard, so Maldonado pulled the girl under the table as she was screaming.
“I went on top of her and covered her mouth as strong as I could so he would not hear us,” he said.
Suddenly, the shooter turned around and took aim at people who had already been shot. Maldonado and the woman made a run for it.
“I grabbed this young girl and I threw her first and I was able to go and as soon as I did, I saw the police officers.”
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was enjoying a night of dancing with her 21 year-old son Isaiah Henderson.
Another son, Mike Marquez, told CNN affiliate WNEP that his mother saw the gunman and pushed his brother out of harm’s way.
Henderson managed to escape and survived. Unfortunately, McCool, a mother of eleven, was killed.
“I want my mother to be remembered as a great person, a person who loved you no matter what color, no matter what ethnicity, no matter what sexual orientation.” Marquez said. “I want her to be remembered as a loving and caring person.”
Imran Yousuf
With just three weeks on the job as a bouncer at Pulse, Imran Yousuf, a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, was back in action. When shots rang out, Yousuf recognized the sound.
He told CBS News, “Three of four shots go off and you could tell it was a high caliber.”
That’s when his Marine training kicked in.
“There was only one choice — either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there,” he said.
Yousuf estimated he helped dozens of people get to safety.
“I wish I could’ve saved more to be honest,” he said.

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