Man at His Best

Angel Colon Was Shot Five Times, But Was One Of The Lucky Few To Make It Out Alive

"I looked over, and he shot her right in the back. I could see her close her eyes, and she just stopped moving. Her hand went limp in mine."

BY DANIELLE BACHER | Jun 16, 2016 | Culture

Shireen Sadaghiani

"All I kept thinking is, I'm going to be dead. I'm next. I'm done," says Angel Colon via phone from the Orlando Regional Medical Center. The 26-year-old is sitting upright in a chair, hooked to a morphine drip. The nurses check his vitals and administer more pain medicine. He's recovering from surgery and feels better today, having been shot five times just three days ago.

Around 2AM, on Sunday morning at Pulse, a gay-friendly club in Orlando, a man named Omar Mateen entered with an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle and a handgun and opened fire. Colon was there with five of his friends; they escaped unharmed, but Colon was shot three times in the leg and was couldn't make it out with them. Minutes later, he was shot a fourth time in the hand and a fifth by his left hip.Twenty-five minutes after it all began, he was rescued by a police officer who'd snuck in through a side entrance. Hours later, SWAT raided the building and killed Mateen, but not before forty-nine people were killed and fifty-three were injured. 

Colon appreciates the dozens of Get Well Soon balloons and colorful flowers lining the windowsill. As the light peeks through the window, he's even more thankful to see another day. He has already spoken at a press conference and had an interview with HLN host Nancy Grace. He's still in shock at what happened, but grateful that for the friends and family who have been visiting him around the clock. He will be in the hospital at least a few more days, and still faces a long recovery before he will be able to walk again.

Did you see Mateen when he walked through the door with his weapons? 
No, I didn't. I was having a really good time with my friends, but it was time to leave. We were gathering up to say our goodbyes, and talking in the main room of the club, which was close to the front entrance. I hugged one of my girls, and out of nowhere, I could hear the first shot. We all just stopped and then the music stopped. Then everyone started frantically running. I was the closest to the shooter in his direction, and I heard BAM, BAM, BAM. He went crazy and was shooting everyone he could. I was shot three times in my right leg. I screamed and fell down to the floor. I tried to get up, I thought I had the strength, but everyone was trampling over me. My friends all got out—they didn't realise that I had been shot; they thought I was right behind them. People ran over my hip, and I could hear my bones crack. All the people running over me shattered my left femur. 

What happened after you fell to the floor?
I couldn't move at all. I had one broken leg and three bullet wounds in the other. I was just stuck there, and people were still running over me. Then I heard a lot more gunshots. I was lying down on the floor, and I heard him leave the room. The shots were getting further away—he was in the back room shooting other people. I was thinking, What can I do? Then I heard the gunshots getting closer again. My head was facing down to the ground, and all I heard were more gunshots. He came back in the room to make sure everyone was dead. He just kept shooting bodies already on the floor. There was glass and blood everywhere. I was playing dead, completely silent. I wanted to yell so badly, but I didn't. When he got closer, the shots got louder and louder. I kept thinking, Oh my God, I'm dead.

When he got closer, the shots got louder. I kept thinking, Oh My God, I'm dead. 
 

Was anyone else close to you alive in the room?
I was holding onto the girl's hand next to me and kept telling her, "It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay." I could now hear the shots getting closer. My head was still down, and my other hand was over my face. I looked over, and he shot her right in the back. I could see her close her eyes, and she just stopped moving. Her hand went limp in mine. I kept holding her hand until he left the room.  It was the first time I had seen a dead body like that. I just thought, I'm next. I'm dead. I didn't know what to do. I just started praying. I said, "Lord, please not like this. I don't want to leave like this. This is not the way I'm supposed to go. Please give me another chance. I don't want to die. Please.”

Were you in pain?
My body was numb. My hand was over my head, and he shot it. Then he shot my left hip. But from the shock that I had, I didn't scream. I just squeezed my hands tight. I luckily also had a few drinks in me, so I did not feel most of the pain. I was trying to play dead as long as I could. I just held it in. I could feel the heat of the bullets going through my body. I was thinking, He knows I've been shot five times. He probably thinks I'm dead. I never saw his face. My head was down the entire time. I didn't want to look at him because he would know I was still alive. I just lay there, and he kept shooting and shooting. Then he went to the front of the club, and he started shooting at the cops.

Did you text or call anyone when you were on the floor?
Actually, yes. I FaceTimed with a few friends. It was only for a few seconds. I just said, "Please help!" I talked to about four people, and then I also texted my sister. I don't know how I had my phone in my hand the entire time. My friends who escaped were calling me, but I couldn't answer because he was also shooting near me and I was scared he was going to see me texting. But at the moment you aren't thinking much—the adrenaline kicks in and everything happens so quickly.

I was trying to play dead as long as I could. 
 

How did you get out?
A cop entering through the side door and started yelling, "Who is alive? Who is alive?" I raise my hand because I couldn't get up. I started yelling, "Please! Me, please! Do whatever you have to do to get me out of here!" From what I remember, I was the only one that said something. There were about 20 people dead in the room. The cop looked in my direction and ran over. He told me that he had to pull me to the exit. He dragged me—there was glass all over the floor, and I had shorts on. The glass was cutting my back, legs and my behind. There was blood all over me. The guy was still shooting in the front, and he couldn't see us. The cop risked his life and got me out and across the street to the ambulance. This cop saved my life. I wish I knew his name, so I could thank him so much. 

You just got out of surgery. Have you processed yet what has happened to you and the many others in that club?
Honestly, I'm still in shock. It's really hard to talk about this. I'm here, but I'm not walking yet. It's still all so crazy and hard to process. But I'm alive, and that's all that matters now. I'm also glad that I can share this story and help other people who went through the same thing. Today, one of the victims came to my hospital room because he wanted to see me. It was the first time that he walked since the shooting. It was in that moment that we both realised we are here, alive, and very lucky. 

From: Esquire US.