Orlando (AFP) - A former US Marine who served in Afghanistan helped save dozens of people during the massacre in a Florida nightclub after he managed to react calmly on hearing the sound of high-caliber gunfire.
Imran Yousuf, 24, was working as a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub when the worst mass shooting in US history started to unfold early Sunday.
In an interview with CBS News, he said he heard gunshots ring out shortly after the bar had issued its last call for drinks.
"Three of four shots go off, and you could tell it was a high caliber, there's no way that would have been a pistol or something else," he said.
He described how a large group of panicked clubbers squeezed into a back hallway -- but were blocked from leaving by a latched door.
"The shots kept going off. I'm just screaming 'Open the door! Open the door!' And no one is moving because they are scared," he said.
"Either we all stay there and we all die ... I jumped over, opened that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there."
Yousuf, who is a Hindu, said about 60 or 70 people were able to escape through the door.
"As soon as people found out that door was open, they kept just pouring out," he said.
Forty-nine people died in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando when gunman Omar Mateen sprayed the venue with bullets during a three-hour siege.
The authorities said Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan parents, was radicalized by Islamist propaganda.
His motive remains unclear, however, as news reports say Mateen had been a Pulse regular and used gay dating apps.
Yousuf, a former sergeant, attributed his relative calm to six years in the Marines and his tour in Afghanistan.
"When the day comes, you are going to see what you are made of, I think I reacted the best I could," he said.
"I wish I could've saved more... there's a lot of people that are dead."