Orlando shooting survivor shares ordeal as community grieves, gives back

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida man said his life has new meaning after he survived the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.

When Malcolm Barraza walked into Pulse Nightclub one week ago, he had no idea he would leave a different person. “It was just like any other night,” he said. “Everybody says it, and that’s exactly what it was.”

Barraza was in Orlando for the week working at an arts camp. He and five coworkers decided to blow off some steam after a long day, so they went to Pulse.

At around, 2 a.m., Barraza said, he heard gunshots. “I knew that that wasn’t a normal sound in a nightclub. I knew exactly what was happening,” he said.
“My mind immediately turned to, ‘Get out, get out, get out.'”

But navigating the packed nightclub proved to be a challenge. “You’re trapped. You’re crammed in there,” he said. “You’re staying low, and the shots sound like they’re getting closer and closer and closer.”

Barraza made his way to the back of the club near the dressing rooms. He crawled trough a small hole in a fence and made it outside, where he found his friends.

But the chaos was far from over. “There was people everywhere,” said Barraza. “People all over the floor, people bleeding, people crying, screaming for help.”

He grabbed a cloth from his car to help the wounded and lent out his cellphone to help others call their families.

Barraza and his friends stayed at the scene until 4 a.m., and somehow they made it back to camp the next morning. “It gave me so much strength, also, because I knew that what I’m doing there is more than anything than this event could have produced,” he said.

Barraza is bringing that strength back home to help victims’ families and other survivors. “We’re born again, and now more than ever, I want to make a difference,” he said.

Barraza attended a benefit in South Beach on Wednesday where he helped raise thousands of dollars for the Orlando victims.

Now, while he looks for more ways to give back, he said he’s comforted by the support he’s seen from around the world. “Everything was about Orlando, and for a second, the entire world was together. For a second, the entire world was mourning,” he said. “It allows you to realize that you’re a part of something so much bigger.”

Barraza plans to partner with the Just Dance It! studio to offer open classes in hopes of raising more money for the Orlando victims and their families.

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