Mass. survivor of Pulse shooting says recovery is a never-ending …
Updated: Jun 12, 2017 – 11:16 PM
BOSTON – Leominster native Jeff Xavier was inside the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016 when 29-year-old security guard Omar Mateen opened fire, killing 49 people and wounding 58 others. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Xavier was shot four times and feared that he would be listed among the dead.
We all thought it was the music, we thought it was the music and it was part of the mix, Xavier told Boston 25 s Vanessa Welch. I saw people die before my eyes. That was a horrible experience. Xavier sent heart-wrenching text messages to loved ones as he laid in that bathroom, bleeding.
I said my goodbyes on social media, Xavier told Boston 25 News.
On the other end of that message was his brother Santos Rodriguez. Vanessa Welch spoke to Rodriguez outside of the growing memorial in Orlando last year. He said the support from New England kept them going, and it’s still true today.
Leominster, Massachusetts people, Boston Strong forever. We may not live in Massachusetts no more, but it s in our blood, Rodriguez said.
Their support has helped me enormously, Xavier said. Boston Marathon bombing survivors even visited Xavier during those dark days to lift his spirits. He spent two months in the hospital, undergoing eight surgeries, and learning to walk again. He still has three more surgeries ahead of him.
It s a big misconception that we are alive, we are OK. Yeah we are alive, but we are not always OK, Xavier said.
It took blood from 40 donors to save Xavier’s life. He’s now an advocate for blood donation, and he’s working to improve gun control.
I believe it is our right in this country to bear arms and we have a right to do that. However I believe there needs to be stricter laws. I personally believe that military assault weapons should not be available to myself, to you, to anybody in the general public, Xavier said. He’s is planning to spend the anniversary of the attack working for that change, and remembering the five friends he lost that night.
The truth is we’re still struggling with this. It’s still very hard. Orlando police eventually shot and killed Omar Mateen after a 3-hour standoff. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic state before he died.
Two Massachusetts natives were among those killed: Stanley Almodovar and Kimberly “K.J.” Morris were both from Springfield and lost their lives that night.
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