“I definitely think about how life has changed and how everything’s changed,” says Norman Casiano, who was inside Pulse Nightclub in Orlando when a gunman entered the facility and started shooting.
“He put his hand over the stall and that's when he shot again and got my other side,” says Casiano.
Just 3 days after being shot twice by a gunman in Pulse Nightclub, Casiano shared his story with 10 News Reporter, Jennifer Titus.
“It's hard. You try to control it because once you start crying it doesn't stop.”
The pain and disbelief still trembled in his voice.
“This is the one where he shot me in the bathroom stall.”
Now, the bandages are off and scars decorate his back where both bullets went in.
“I’ve learned to mourn and accept the fact that I lost friends and family that night and accept my body the way it is now.”
Casiano says the mourning has allowed him to go back to the place that would change his life forever.
“All of those images flash in and out of my head,” says Casiano. “I always thought it would be a nightmare place for me.”
Casiano had only been back to Pulse nightclub twice before he went with Jennifer Titus.
“Even walking through this whole area is strange.”
It's been hard for Norman to come back.
“This one right here, she was always making crazy faces, and this is Stanley. We were together right before everything started. He left and said he was going to pull up the car. As I'm paying the tab for him, that's when everything started and that is when I heard first 2 gun shots.”
“It's crazy wanting to smile seeing all the love.”
He says it feels right.
“Hate will never win. Love will forever stand strong. I hadn't signed anything. I hadn't really been here.”
Casiano knows there is still a long road ahead when it comes to healing.
But being able to smile, at a place where he lost so much. Changed his life is a step in the right direction.
“It’s awesome. A lot of good things coming out of such a terrible situation.”
Reporter: What would you say to somebody about that night and why it's so important to remember what happened that night?
“I say the same thing, every time to people that think it’s a hoax or have forgotten the meaning behind that night. I always say that a lot of people were lost that night and a lot of hate was put across that night and what we have to take away from it, is the love and togetherness that was taken afterwards and always use it as a community and all the bad things going on in the world, we have to use it as a positive so hate doesn't live on. We have to remember love and togetherness and not think about hate.”
And that's just what Casiano has done- learned to love life again.
The owner of the Pulse Nightclub has announced plans to turn it into a memorial and museum to commemorate the tragic event. She said they hope to open the memorial in 2020. It's not yet clear how much the site will cost, or what it will look like. The owner says that the museum will showcase historic artifacts and stories from the event.
Next Monday June 12th, will be one year since the shooting.
A day of events has been planned to remember those who lost their lives. It's being called Orlando United Day.
Officials describe it as a day of love and kindness.
Norman will be there.
Below is the series of events planned to commemorate the lives lost. If you cannot make it out to Orlando, officials hope you perform an act of kindness, on June 12th to continue the unity that followed the tragedy at Pulse.
- 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Orange County History Center: The expanded One Orlando Collection and Digital Gallery includes images of individual items collected at the Pulse memorial sites in their current state in preservation. Curated pieces from the One Orlando Collection will feature community artwork and international support that was received following the tragedy. The Gallery Display is available for viewing from June 12 through June 17. Admission is free.
- 10:30 a.m., Orange County Administration Center: At the direction and request of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Section 93 of the legendary Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag was originally displayed on June 17, 2016, at the Orange County Administration Building, in tribute to the lives taken at Pulse and in support of freedom lovers worldwide. The Sea-to-Sea Flag, which is also known as “The Sacred Cloth,” has become a globally-recognized symbol of the LGBTQ movement, symbolizing acceptance, understanding, education, solidarity and inclusion.
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Pulse nightclub: Throughout the day, members of the community are welcome to visit Pulse Nightclub to honor the legacies of the 49 victims, their families and the survivors. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a ceremony including various community speakers, reflective prayers, a reading of the 49 names, a display of 49 wreaths and music by Violectric. The Inspiration Orlando mural, our Angel Force, Hang-a-Heart, Stars of Hope and comfort dogs will be present.
- 7 p.m., Lake Eola Park Amphitheater: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan and other community leaders and elected officials will hold a one-year remembrance ceremony at Lake Eola Park. The ceremony, Orlando Love: Remembering Our Angels, will include remarks by community leaders, musical performances by Olga Tañón and Sisaundra Lewis along with a memorial reading of the 49 names of those who were taken during the June 12 tragedy.
- 10 p.m.-midnight, Pulse nightclub: At 10 p.m., the community is invited to conclude the evening with a series of prayer, live music, inspirational dance and reflection.
- For more information on Orlando United Day, visit OrangeCountyfl.net
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