ORLANDO, FL (WIVB) — After the deadliest mass shooting in American history, families are waiting for answers.
Fifty people were killed when a gunman opened fire in the Pulse nightclub. City officials released seven of the victim’s names Sunday evening.
Donte Martinez is praying his friends’ names aren’t released in the coming days. He was with a large group at Pulse on Saturday night. He spent most of the day Sunday trying to get in contact with people, to see if they made it out.
The sound of the assault rifle used to kill 50 people is still fresh in his mind.
“I go inside through the beaded doors, to the dance room, and I hear that boom! ‘Pop-pop-pop’,” Martinez described.
Martinez happened to be outside the club, smoking a cigarette when the chaos started.
“You just see people fall to the ground and I’m just standing there in shock and in a daze like, wait what’s going on,” he said. “Running past, glasses dropping, I’m getting covered in blood.”
This crime is being called an act of hate and terrorism.
People in Orlando say Pulse was not only a place to dance and hangout but a place to feel, and to be, safe.
“You wouldn’t expect something like this to happen in Orlando,” said Caleb Collins, of Orlando. “You wouldn’t expect something like this to happen in your community.”
Orlando police say their active shooter training prevented around 30 additional deaths. One officer was injured but is expected to recover.
In the hours following the rampage, Orlando is quiet. As people grieve, they say they’re also feeling strong, Orlando strong.
“We’re a huge community, but we’re a tight knit community,” said Collins.
Survivors like Martinez, are just trying to hold onto hope.
“Maybe their phone is broken, or they’re alive and they’re just in the hospital and they’ll contact you,” said Martinez. “Every vibration my phone makes, I think it’s a friend. But then at the same time it’s that feeling that you know, they didn’t make it.”