A journalism student at NYU was among the 53 survivors who suffered injuries in the Orlando shooting.
At a press conference Tuesday, Patience Carter recalled the hours she spent trapped with other victims in one of the bathrooms at Pulse, the gay nightclub where the attacker, Omar Mateen, shot and killed 49 people.
What began as a family vacation with her friend, Akyra Murray, and Murray’s cousin, Tiara Parker, quickly turned into “the worst night of our lives” when Mateen opened fire, Carter told reporters.
Carter and Murray initially escaped the dance club after they heard gunshots from the dance floor, but they went back in to save Parker, she said.
They hid in the bathroom along with several other victims, who were crowding into the stalls, when Mateen burst in and started shooting. All three girls were shot, Carter in both of her legs. She and Parker survived, but Murray died later from her injuries.
It was in that bathroom that Mateen made the call to 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. He told authorities he wanted America to “stop bombing his country,” said Carter, who got out of surgery on Monday morning.
After several hours had passed, Mateen fired his gun again before police officers tore into the nightclub to end the standoff.
Carter said a man blocked one of the bullets from hitting her. He didn’t make it.
“Thank you for saving my life, literally,” Carter said, acknowledging the man who protected her from the gunfire.
A member of the SWAT team dragged Carter to safety because she couldn’t walk on her own. In her right leg was a shattered femur bone. In her left leg, a bullet.
At the news conference, Carter shared a poem she wrote about the ordeal, opening with this line: “The guilt of feeling grateful to be alive is heavy.” She said she regretted not telling Murray to wait outside.
John Beckman, the vice president of public affairs at NYU, released the following statement about Carter, an intern for WTXF Fox 29 in Philadelphia:
“The prayers of the NYU community are with Patience Carter, an undergraduate in our Steinhardt School who was one of the dozens wounded in the horrific attack in Orlando. We wish her a speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with her, the others who were wounded or killed, and all their loved ones.”