A young Black woman who survived her injuries sustained at Pulse Night Club in Orlando after gunman Omar Mateen suddenly opened fire on the LGBT establishment early Sunday morning says the raging shooter told hostages he wasn’t interested in targeting African-Americans.

20-year-old Patience Carter says she was enjoying a night out at the club with her two friends and had just called an Uber to head home when Mateen opened fire. “We went from having the time of our lives to the worst night of our lives in a matter of minutes,” she said, describing the incident to a room full of reporters as she sat in a wheelchair during a press conference at Florida Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. The Philadelphia native was in Orlando on vacation with her best friend and was initially able to make her way out of the club safely once the shooting began, but went back in when she and her friend realized their other friend was still inside. Patience says they quickly found their friend and had huddled together in the stall of a nearby bathroom when they heard Mateen enter the restroom and begin firing. 

Here’s Everything We Know About the Orlando Shooting

Fighting back tears, she recalled seeing “bodies piled on top of each other on the toilet seat” while lying on the floor.

Shortly after opening fire, Patience says she heard Mateen make a 911 call during which he told the dispatcher he was carrying out the attack because he “wanted America to stop bombing his country.” After ending the 911 call, Patience says Mateen then asked if there were any Black people in the bathroom before making the statement, “I don’t have a problem with black people. This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.” She says Mateen continued to have ongoing conversation with others in the bathroom until police arrived and opened fire, ultimately killing him.

Patience was shot in both legs, while one of her friends was shot in the arm and the other in the side.  Although Patience and her friend who sustained the gunshot wound in her side survived, her other friend, who was the youngest of the three, did not. Before sharing her story during Tuesday’s press conference, Patience read a poem she wrote while hospitalized. Watch her emotional reading of the poem in the video clip below.

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