United States Marines are familiar with the ear splitting sound made by the AR-15. And when Omar Mateen opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Imran Yousuf–a veteran–immediately knew what he was hearing.
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Yousuf, a 24-year-old, served as a Marine in Afghanistan. He was working as a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub. He was inside the Pulse, making rounds after last-call when the shooting started.
“The initial one was three or four (shots). That was a shock. Three of four shots go off and you could tell it was a high caliber,” he told CBS News. “Everyone froze. I’m here in the back and I saw people start pouring into the back hallway, and they just sardine pack everyone.”
Yousuf understood what had to happen. The people, many of them both scared and under the influence of alcohol, had panicked. The door out was latched, and he knew how to open it. The people packing in against it did not.
“And I’m screaming ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ And no one is moving because they are scared,” he said. “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 a we got everyone that we can out of there.”
He jumped. Before Mateen could execute the people that had piled up in the hall, he opened the door and moved many of them to safety outside.
“Probably over 60, 70,” he said. “As soon as people found that door was open they kept pouring out and after that we just ran. I wish I could have saved more to be honest,” he said tearfully in the interview. “There are a lot of people that are dead …there are a lot of people that are dead.”
This is just one of the stories of heroism that is sure to come from this tragic event. While 49 people lost their lives, Yousuf’s clear thinking saved many more.