While the United States grieves the tragedy of the Orlando mass shooting, the main topic of discussion appears to be whether or not it was Islamic extremism or lax gun control regulations that led to the death of 50 people. But few are talking about the people who survived the Orlando shooting thanks to the heroism of a war veteran named Imran Yousuf, who worked as a bouncer at the Pulse night club. He reportedly jumped into action the instant Omar Mateen opened fire and saved the lives of dozens of patrons.
According to CBS News, Imran Yousuf is a 24-year-old former Marine who rescued a large group of potential victims by guiding them out of the night club through a back exit. The Orlando shooting has been called the worst mass shooting in United States history and the most violent attack against LGBT individuals, but the bloodshed could have been more than twice as bad without the quick thinking of the young veteran.
“The initial one was three or four (shots),” said Imran Yousuf. “That was a shock. Three of four shots go off and you could tell it was a high caliber. Everyone froze. I’m here in the back and I saw people start pouring into the back hallway, and they just sardine pack everyone.”
“I wish I could save more” – Imran Yousuf, bouncer at Pulse nightclub, recalls the events of Saturday night.
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 14, 2016
According to the Marine Corps Times, Imran’s Marine Corps training kicked in while everyone else was too scared to move. Yousuf served in Afghanistan, where he gained the experience necessary to remain calm during a life-threatening situation. That, plus his knowledge of the Pulse nightclub, allowed him to lead the terrified patrons away from the gunfire and out to safety.
“I’m just screaming ‘open the door, open the door,’ and no one’s moving because they’re scared. 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.”
Though Imran Yousuf regrets the fact that he couldn’t save more people from the Orlando shooting, he claims somewhere between 60 and 70 people probably made it out alive through the back exit. Once the veteran opened an escape route, the nightclub was no longer an enclosed death trap.
“As soon as people found that door was open they kept pouring out and after that we just ran,” he said, fighting tears. “I wish I could save more, to be honest. There’s a lot of people that are dead… There’s a lot of people that are dead.”
He explained that he hadn’t really processed how many people died in the Orlando shooting until he was being interviewed by CBS. Some of the victims were close friends of Imran himself.