Orlando shooting: When others froze, Indian-origin ex-Marine saved 60 lives

Jun 18, 2016, 09:10 IST | Agencies

Pulse’s bouncer Imran Yousuf’s military experience kicked in and he jumped to open a backdoor to let people out

New York: A former US Marine sergeant of Indian origin, Imran Yousuf, has been hailed as a hero for saving scores of lives at a Florida night club when a terrorist went on a rampage killing 49 people.

Imran Yousuf. Pic/Twitter
Imran Yousuf. Pic/Twitter

When Yousuf, who was working as a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub catering to the gay community in Orlando, Florida, heard the first gunshots his military experience fighting in Afghanistan kicked in. As everyone in the packed nightclub froze in fear, he jumped up and at personal risk, opened a back door allowing many people to escape.

‘One choice’
He told CBS News television that as panicked people streamed to the back of the hall, “I’m screaming ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ And no one is moving because they are scared.” “There was only one choice,” he added. “Either we all stay there and die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped to open the latch and got everyone we can out of there.”

Yousuf — whose mother and grandmother are Hindus — risked his life because he could have drawn the attention of shooter Omar Mateen. Yousuf said his quick action saved 60 to 70 lives .

The network reported that he cried as he said, “I wish I could have saved more to be honest. There are a lot of people that are dead.”

And Yousuf has been modest, brushing off the praises as a hero. Yousuf posted on social media, “There are a lot of people naming me a hero and as a former Marine and Afghan veteran, I honestly believe I reacted by instinct. While it might seem that my actions are heroic I decided that the others around me needed to be saved and so I just reacted.”

What’s in a name?
CBS News identified Yousuf as a Hindu and his name caused some confusion. A newspaper India West, which interviewed his uncle, clarified that his mother and paternal grandmother are Hindus and he identifies with their religion. His family emigrated from Guyana, where his ancestors had gone from India.

Marines threaten gay bars on FB
Two US marines are being investigated in connection with a social media post of a photograph showing a corporal in uniform holding a rifle and accompanied by the words “coming to a gay bar near you”. The picture was posted to a closed Facebook group for Marines. The person who posted it also wrote “Too soon?”

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