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Former Mass. man describes harrowing scene inside Orlando club

Angel Colon (center) spoke during a press conference Tuesday at Orlando Regional Medical Center. He was shot three times by the gunman. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

For Angel Colon and his friends, it had been a night filled with laughter, drinks, and dancing.

Then, as last call neared and the group was saying goodbye, a burst of gunfire broke out at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“Out of nowhere, we just heard a big shotgun,” Colon, 26, said Tuesday at a televised news conference from the Orlando Regional Medical Center, two days after surviving the worst mass shooting in US history.

Sitting in a wheelchair near the doctors and nurses who treated him, Colon, a former resident of Framingham, recounted the terrifying moments after Omar Mateen opened fire.

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“I can see him just shooting everyone . . . I look over and he shoots the girl next to me,” Colon said. ‘‘I’m next, I’m dead,” he recalled thinking.

The attack left 49 people dead and 53 others wounded. Colon was shot three times, and survived by pretending to be dead, he said.

“I was just prepared to stay there, laying down so he won’t know I’m alive,” he said.

Fighting back tears, Colon recalled the terrifying sounds of rapid gunfire and screams enveloping the club.

“All I could hear was the shotgun, one after another, and the people screaming, people yelling for people,” he said.

Watch: Angel Colon describes the shooting scene

After shooting the girl next to him, Mateen fired toward Colon’s head, but the bullet hit his hand, Colon said. Another bullet struck his hip, and a third hit his leg. He fell to the floor, where he was trampled by patrons who were running for their lives. He suffered broken bones in his left leg, he said.

The gunman then went into another room, and Colon said he hoped someone might be able to stop him. But he soon returned, firing at already fallen bodies.

“I thought I was a little safe at this time,” he said. “It [gave] everyone time to tackle him down, and get him down. . . . Unfortunately, I hear him come back, and he’s shooting everyone already on the floor, making sure they’re dead.”

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Colon was later found by a police officer, who dragged his body across a floor covered in blood and shattered glass.

“I don’t feel pain, but I just feel all this blood on me, from myself, from my other people,” Colon recalled. He was taken to a Wendy’s restaurant across the street, where an ambulance was waiting.

“I look over and there are just bodies everywhere,” he said.

Colon thanked the police officer, surgeons, and hospital staff for caring for the wounded.

“The way that you guys have taken care of us is amazing,” he said. “It it wasn’t for you guys, I would not be here. I will love you guys forever.’’

Asked about the Latino and LGBT communities, Colon said he wanted the world to know “we are together.”

“We are hugging each other,” he said. “I’ve seen so much love, from everyone. We really have each other’s backs.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Colon pay his medical expenses.

Colon graduated from Fuller Middle School in Framingham in 2004, and attended Framingham High School until March 2005, according to school records.

Colon was an honor roll student, said Cindie Pagano, the office manager of the principal’s office. Reached at her home in Winter Haven, Fla., Colon’s mother, Mirta Colon, declined to discuss her son’s condition.

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In Framingham, a silent vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting was to be held Tuesday on the town common.

“Silence is so powerful,” said the Rev. Deborah Clark, pastor of Edwards Church and the convener of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association, which planned the vigil. “We don’t stand together in silence very often.”

Another man wounded in the attack, Geoffrey Rodriguez, has Massachusetts roots. Raised in Leominster, he moved to Florida in his late-teens, said Aida Maldonado, a family friend who lives in Fitchburg. Maldonado grew up with Rodriguez’s stepmother, who told her he is doing better.

Rodriguez had been in critical condition and was heading for surgery, Maldonado said, but is now able to talk.

Although it has been more than 10 years since Rodriguez lived in Massachusetts, there has been an outpouring of support from his former community, Maldonado said.

“He’s loved by a lot of people,” she said.

Judy Reardon, who also lives in Fitchburg, grew up with Rodriguez’s cousin and described Rodriguez as a kindhearted person.

“All I know is that he’s a great guy,” she said. “And everyone else I know who knows him says he’s a great guy.”


Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report. Kathy McCabe can be reached at Katherine.McCabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe. Reis Thebault can be reached at reis.thebault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @reisthebault.