ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jon Alamo was ready for a good time.
The 22-year-old clothing store sales clerk arrived at Pulse in Orlando at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, clad all in blue from his button-down shirt adorned with palm trees to his loafers.
“It was definitely going to be an awesome night,” he said.
Like young people in clubs the world over, Alamo met up with some friends, and then some more friends. He danced in Pulse’s main room, where people swayed to the beat of salsa music. Then Alamo drifted into the club’s two other rooms, which grooved to more of a hip-hop vibe. He remembers hearing Rihanna’s “Work,” one of his favorite songs, and grinding to it on the dance floor.
It was supposed to be just a night of dancing and drinking, of looking good and gleefully partying into the early morning hours. It was Latin night at Pulse, one of Orlando’s top gay venues, and two drag performers were scheduled to perform, one of them a big draw for appearing on a season of the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“I was in the zone,” Alamo recalled. “I wasn’t even paying attention — just dancing.”
About three and a half hours after he arrived, the gunshots began. And the first of the 49 victims began to die.
Residents of the Delaney Court condos next door to Pulse first heard the shooting about 2:03 a.m. Marlon Massey was watching the movie “Creed” when he heard “pop, pop, pop!” He checked his phone for the time: The shots went on until 2:05 a.m.
A uniformed Orlando police officer working at the club off-duty had heard gunshots himself and spotted Omar Mateen outside the club. He fired his gun at the 29-year-old security guard from Fort Pierce, Florida, and two other officers quickly joined in. Mateen was not armed lightly: Police said he had an AR-15 assault-type rifle, a handgun and an explosive device.
Undeterred, he re-entered the club.