By NAN Staff Writers
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. June 20, 2016: As relatives and friends begin the heart wrenching task of burying their loved ones, the public is learning of a Guyanese-American marine veteran, who risked his own life to save others on June 12, 2016.
Imran Yousef, 24, is being recognized as a hero for helping dozens of people escape the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. The former Marine, whose parents were born in Guyana and who served in Afghanistan, was working as a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub when he heard gunfire at about 1:45 a.m.
“That was a shock. Three or four shots go off and you could just tell it was a high caliber,” a New York native like killer Omar Mateen told CBS News. “Everyone froze.”
As patrons raced to flee the gunfire, they packed into the back staff hallway where he was, Yousuf said. He instructed them to open a latch on a nearby door to exit the building, but they froze in a state of panic, he said.
“I’m just screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ and no one’s moving because they were scared,” Yousuf told the news organization. “There was only one choice: Either we all stay there and we all die or I could either take the chance and get shot and save everyone else. And I jumped over, opened that latch and we got every one that we can out of there.”
When correspondent CBS Mark Strassmann asked him how many people exited the door, Yousuf estimated between 60 and 70. Strassmann told him he saved a lot of lives.
“I wish I could save more, to be honest,” he added.
Yousuf, returned from military service in April after a serving tour of duty in Afghanistan. His paternal grandfather is Muslim, and his grandmother is Hindu, but Yousuf has chosen the Hindu faith.
He graduated from Niskayuna High School – near Schenectady, New York – in 2010 and immediately joined the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Times reported that Yousuf served as an engineer equipment electrical systems technician in the Marine Corps from June 2010 to May 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.
Yousuf was last assigned to 3rd Marine Logistics Group. His military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Korean Defense Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
While many are lauding him as a hero, Yousuf wrote on his Facebook page June 13th: “There are a lot of people naming me a hero. As a former Marine and Afghan veteran I honestly believe I reacted by instinct.”
“I have lost a few of my friends that night which I am just finding out about right now, and while it might seem that my actions are heroic I decided that the others around me needed to be saved as well and so I just reacted.”