Survivors: Gunman Laughed During Orlando Massacre
A mother of 11 died protecting her son
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2016 3:03 AM CDT
A lantern is released into the sky during a vigil downtown for the victims of a mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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(Newser) – People who made it out of Orlando's Pulse nightclub alive are sharing stories of their horrific experiences. Norman Casiano, 25, tells the New York Times that he huddled in a crammed bathroom stall after shooting erupted. He says gunman Omar Mateen laughed after he entered the room and opened fire on people begging for their lives. "All I heard was a laugh," Casiano says. "He laughed like an evil laugh, something that's just going to be imprinted in my head forever." Mateen apparently later barricaded himself in another bathroom, where a survivor named Orlando says he heard him speaking about ISIS in surprisingly calm 911 calls. Orlando says he played dead at the end of the standoff with police, when Mateen began executing hostages. In other coverage of the mass shooting and its aftermath:

  • Police officers give harrowing accounts of the end of the standoff and some heroic rescues to the Orlando Sentinel.

  • The New York Daily News has the story of Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, a 49-year-old mother of 11 who died protecting her son when Mateen opened fire.
  • The White House announced Monday night that President Obama will visit Orlando on Thursday "to pay his respects to victims' families, and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery," USA Today reports.
  • The Washington Post reports on the effect the shooting—which took place on the nightclub's "Latin Night"—has had on the local Hispanic community. Many of the victims are believed to be from the Orlando area's fast-growing Puerto Rican community.
  • The Orlando Sentinel has a full list of all of the victims, and the stories of many of them, including 18-year-old Akyra Murray, who was in town celebrating her high school graduation.
  • The New York Times looks back to an earlier anti-gay atrocity in the US: A 1973 arson attack on a New Orleans bar that killed 32 people.