On her first night of vacation in Orlando with her two best friends, Patience Carter said they went from "having the time of her lives to having the worst night of their lives within a matter of minutes." And one of her friends did not make it out of the club alive.
On Tuesday, Carter and her friend, Tiara, were recovering from their injuries and mourning the loss of their best friend, 18-year-old Akyra Murray.
The three friends went to the Pulse nightclub for a night of dancing Saturday to celebrate Carter's high school graduation. When the first shots from Omar Mateen rang out, they ran into a bathroom with several others and barricaded themselves in a stall. Moments later, Mateen opened fire. He would kill 49 people inside the club.
"I never thought in a million years my eyes could witness something so tragic," Carter said. "People are getting hit by bullets, blood is everywhere. There was a moment when he stopped."
At that moment, Carter went back into the main area of the club and saw Angel Colon lying on the floor, bleeding from his leg.
"He's shooting everyone who is dead on the floor, making sure they're dead," Colon said.
Colon then froze and braced for another round of shooting. He said Mateen shot toward his head but hit his hand. Colon stayed on the ground, unable to move, next to dozens of other victims while Mateen went into the bathroom, where he stayed for about three hours until a SWAT team charged in and killed Mateen in a shootout.
In addition to the 49 people killed, there were more than 50 injured. Twenty people remained hospitalized Tuesday, six of whom were in critical condition.
"The guilt of feeling grateful to be alive is heavy," Carter said.