Survivors of the Orlando nightclub shooting are beginning to recover, and they are now sharing their stories about Sunday morning’s horrifying events.
One of these survivors is Norman Casiano, who says he was getting ready to call an Uber and head home from Pulse when the shooting began. He was shot several times and saw many people lose their lives around him, but Casiano was lucky enough to emerge with only minor injuries.
Here’s everything we know about Casiano’s incredible survival story.
1. He Hid in the Pulse Bathroom
Though many of the Pulse survivors say they thought the gunshots were actually part of the music at first, Casiano says he immediately realized what was happening, dropping to the floor and crawling to the bathroom for safety.
He told ABC News, about 20 people were crammed together in one stall where Casiano went. About 10 or 15 more people came after he arrived. As they all hid together, they could hear the shooting getting louder and louder. Many of those people in the stall began praying, and Casiano joined them.
2. He Consoled a Man as He Died
Shortly after the stall had been filled with people, a man who was seriously injured made his way into the bathroom and tried to join Casiano in this hiding place.
However, the man immediately collapsed to the floor outside of the stall. Casiano, being near the front, attempted to pull the man inside for safety, but the stall was so crammed with people it was not possible to do so.
Casiano says he consoled this man, telling him to breathe and try to be quiet so the gunman would not hear him. The man looked Casiano in the eye and said “I don’t want to die.” Shortly after, the shooter came in and fired one last fatal shot.
Casiano says he will remember that man’s last moments for the rest of his life.
3. He Says the Killer Was Laughing
Casiano says that he can not stop thinking about the fact that as the shooter entered the bathroom and began shooting, he let out a laugh.
“All I heard was a laugh,” Casiano told The New York Times. “He laughed like an evil laugh, something that’s just going to be imprinted in my head forever.”
In a CNN interview, Casiano said that while he was in the hospital, he kept hearing the sounds of the gun being fired and the sound of the killer’s laugh in his head.
4. He Was Shot Twice in the Back
After the man on the bathroom floor had died, the killer began shooting through the stall door, and Casiano was struck by a bullet.
Casiano immediately pulled out his phone and called his parents, yelling that he had been shot and telling his parents he loved them. The call cut out before he could say any more.
Moments later, the man then lifted the gun over the stall and began shooting wildly. Casiano was ultimately shot twice in the back, but luckily for him both bullets passed through his body and did not cause any major damage.
Casiano was discharged from the hospital on Monday.
5. He Pretended to Be Dead
Many of the people who were in that stall with Casiano were immediately killed in the gunfire. Casiano dropped to the floor and did not make a sound, and the shooter apparently assumed that everyone in that particular stall must have been dead.
Casiano says he isn’t sure how he mustered up the strength to crawl out of the bathroom to safety, as he was very seriously injured by the time the gunman left.
“I guess just hearing my parents’ voice and thinking ‘There’s more…there’s no way this is going to be where my life ends,” he told ABC News.
He says he had to step over bodies in order to make his way out of the bathroom. He saw flashlights, and when he poked his head out the bathroom door, police had arrived.