Six months after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, one survivor of the shooting is speaking out for the first time, saying time has not been healing her emotional wounds.
The memories, she says, are still so vivid. “I still feels like it was yesterday,” said Marissa Delgado. “It’s not getting any better.”
The 29-year-old says she was shot 12 times inside the nightclub.
Monday, she visited Pulse for the first time since the shooting.
It was once a place she loved to spend time with friends.
Now, it’s the place where she saw some of those friends die. It’s where she had to hide to save her life.
“You can’t get rid of them yelling for their life. Begging or pleading. That doesn’t go away,” Delgado said. “I feel like I can still just hear them yelling. I feel like I can still smell everything.”
Delgado said she was out with friends June 12. They loved Latin Night, which was the theme of the evening.
It was just after 2 a.m. when there was a startling sound of gun fire.
People scattered. She says people even grabbed her to use her as a human shield.
Bullets riddled her body.
“It had already hit me six times. It hit me on my side, on my leg,” she said.
A friend grabbed her body and pulled her into the men’s restroom, where shooter, Omar Mateen, ultimately opened fire again.
“As soon as we closed the door and tried to place ourselves [in front] is when he came in with the first 15 shots.”
Delgado was shot 12 times, in all, in the mid and lower body.
“I kind of had to hide under bodies so I could make sure I wouldn’t get hit again,” Delgado said.
For the next 4 hours, she says she was critically injured and bleeding, while hiding in that bathroom.
“There was a nurse that was in the bathroom with us who sat me in a certain position so I wouldn’t bleed out.”
She was rescued, and hospitalized for several days. She says she still has a bullet lodged in her body.
Life did not get any easier after being released from the hospital.
It took months, she says, to get past the denial.
She’s still angry. She experiences anxiety and fear daily.
“I can’t go into public sometimes, just always trying to look for an exit.”
The Circle K gas station clerk has not found the strength to get back to work.
One of the hardest parts, she says, is the guilt.
“I got shot twelve times and there’s people that just got shot once and didn’t get to make it. Especially my best friend who I came in with. We were supposed to leave together and I couldn’t really do anything to save him,” Delgado said.
Her close friends, family and partner are her lifeline, helping her grieve and helping her feel a sense of purpose in her survival.
“I feel like a part of me that day died. I still try to figure out who I am.”
Delgado stayed briefly at a memorial service at Pulse for the six month anniversary Monday. She said anxiety set in quickly.
She is grateful for support, saying it is greatly needed.
It likely will be for a lifetime.