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Pulse nightclub survivors speak: 'The guilt of being alive is heavy'

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Posted at 12:49 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 15:59:14-04

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — One of the survivors of the nightclub shooting says she went from having the time of her life with her friends to the worst night of her life in a matter of minutes.

Twenty-year-old Patience Carter talked about the night from Florida Hospital Orlando on Tuesday where she is recovering from a gunshot wound. Carter says she was with a group of friends at the Pulse nightclub when she heard the gunshots on early Sunday.

Carter says one of her friends was killed and another was also shot and has more severe injuries. She described hearing the gunman's calls to 911 in which he said he was shooting because he wanted America to stop bombing his country. She says he spoke in Arabic and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.

The gunman was born in New York and his parents were born in Afghanistan.

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She also described a person that she didn't know shielding her from being hit as the hostage situation came to a close and the gunman was killed by police.

Before speaking, Carter read a poem that ended with the words: "The guilt of being alive is heavy."

Another survivor who hid in the handicapped stall as a gunman attacked a gay Florida nightclub says he had to drag himself out to safety and is just grateful to be alive.

From a bed Tuesday at the hospital that treated him, Angel Santiago Jr. described to reporters how he survived the massacre. He says he got to club Pulse in Orlando about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. About 2 a.m., as the last drinks were served, he and the two friends he was with heard gunshots.

They made their way to the bathroom area and hid in the large stall. Santiago says about 15 people total were in there. He was shot in the left foot and right knee. The group tried to be quiet. He eventually dragged himself, unable to walk, out of the bathroom and toward police. He used his cellphone light to indicate his presence to officers, who soon grabbed him and got him outside.

He says he could see the bullet hole on one of his friends, who also is recovering. He says he never saw the shooter or heard him speak.

He says: "I don't even know how I'm alive today."