The Pulse nightclub was filled with more than 300 people for Latin night, when a gunman identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen began shooting around 2 a.m. Sunday. As bullets flew, club-goers struggled to understand what was happening. Here are accounts from witnesses as the horror unfolded:
Brandon Wolf, a former contestant on the Bravo show Kandi factory, tweeted: "Omg. Shooting at pulse. We hid in the bathroom. And we can’t find our friends."
Later he wrote that a friend had died.
"My heart is broken. We couldn’t save Juan. Thank you everyone who was praying and hoping. May he rest easy."
Luis Burbano told CNN: "The DJ was playing a typical set that incorporated what we thought was gunshots as part of the music, four shots — bah, bah, bah, bah — but for some reason it was different. No one put two and two together until the fifth and sixth, between 10 and 20, that’s when everything really started getting real and then we all at that point did a domino effect all to the floor."
Christopher Hansen told NBC News he had taken his first sip from a drink when he heard what he thought was the beat of a song until he saw people falling to the dance floor.
"I just saw bodies going down," he said. "Bang, bang, bang."
He crawled past a bathroom and made it outside, where people were bleeding. A man whose pants were drenched in blood had a bullet in his back, he said. Hansen used his bandana to stop the bleeding.
"I had just seen the movie 'The Conjuring 2'" he said. "To go from a horror movie to a real horror, it's just shocking."
Brand White and his cousin were on the dance floor when White's cousin yelled to him, "B, it's a guy with a bomb," the AP reported. Suddenly, White was hit in the shoulder.
"All of a sudden it just started like a rolling thunder, loud and everything went black," White wrote in a Facebook message to the AP from his hospital room Sunday. "I think I was trampled."
He didn't recall leaving the club, but he remembered the state he was in: "Covered head to toe in blood."
"I remember screaming and mass chaos," he wrote. "There were hundreds of people there."
He got to the hospital, where he received a blood transfusion. As Sunday wore on, his cousin remained missing.
Mina Justice was asleep when she got the first text from her 30-year-old son, Eddie Justice, who was inside the Pulse. Here is their exchange of messages, according to The Associated Press.
"Mommy I love you," the first message said. It was 2:06 a.m.
"In club they shooting."
Mina Justice tried calling her 30-year-old son. No answer.
Alarmed and half awake, she tapped out a response.
At 2:07 a.m., he wrote: "Trapp in bathroom."
Justice asked what club, and he responded: "Pulse. Downtown. Call police."
Then at 2:08: "I'm gonna die."
Now wide awake, Justice dialed 911.
She sent a flurry of texts over the next several minutes.
"I'm calling them now."
"U still in there"
"Answer our damn phone"
The 911 dispatcher wanted her to stay on the line. She wondered what kind of danger her son was in. He was normally a homebody who liked to eat and work out. He liked to make everyone laugh. He worked as an accountant and lived in a condo in downtown Orlando.
"Lives in a sky house, like the Jeffersons," she would say. "He lives rich."
She knew he was gay and at a club — and all the complications that might entail. Fear surged through her as she waited for his next message.
At 2:39 a.m., he responded:
"Call them mommy"
He wrote that he was in the bathroom.
"I'm gonna die."
Justice asked her son if anyone was hurt and which bathroom he was in.
"Lots. Yes," he responded at 2:42 a.m.
When he didn't text back, she sent several more messages. Was he with police?
"Text me please," she wrote.
"No," he wrote four minutes later. "Still here in bathroom. He has us. They need to come get us."
At 2:49 a.m., she told him the police were there and to let her know when he saw them.
"Hurry," he wrote. "He's in the bathroom with us."
She asked, "Is the man in the bathroom wit u?"
At 2:50 a.m.: "He's a terror."
Then, a final text from her son a minute later: "Yes."
More than 15 hours after that text, Justice still hadn't heard from her son. She and a dozen family and friends stayed at a hotel Sunday evening that was used as a staging area for relatives awaiting news.
Early on Monday, authorities identified Eddie Justice as one of the people killed in the rampage.