Philly Pulse survivor on latest mass shootings: 'Tragedy changes you'

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — When Patience Carter landed in Florida Sunday after a brief trip in Philadelphia, the news headlines stopped her in her tracks.

Two mass shooting — in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas — occurred within 24 hours of each other.

Carter was instantly taken back to the night of June 12, 2016 — the night 49 people were killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre. She was one of the several dozen who survived.

"It just takes me back there because I don't know what to do," she said. "You understand the pain those people are going through; you understand the fear, how scared they are."

Carter, a Philly native, was just 20 when she and her best friend, Tiara Parker, and Parker's cousin, Akyra Murray, went to Pulse during a vacation in Orlando.  

They partied for a couple hours before the gunman opened fire. Carter was shot multiple times in the leg. Parker was also injured.  

Murray — who was just 18 — was killed, becoming the youngest victim of the shooting. 

Since that June night three years ago, there have been 14 mass shootings, and each one resonates with Carter.

"As much as I want to do something, as a survivor, I feel hopeless," she said. "No matter how much I speak out, no matter how much I try to shed light on things, it seems like nothing is happening. It seems like I am adding to a cycle of thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, and debates, but nothing is happening. And at this point, I feel lost as a survivor of gun violence."

Although the now 23-year-old Carter still feels pain in her leg, most of her injuries have healed. She's tried to push her life forward: She moved to Hollywood, Florida, earned her trauma certification, and authored a book, "Survive Then Live: The Story of Patience Carter." 

Her book offers an example of healing, where she discusses how to balance advocacy with finding happiness.

"It's a challenge for me every single day," she noted.

But, you have a chance to speak out on an issue that's lost it's focus. Force congress, force our lawmakers, force our president to protect its citizens by enforcing universal background checks for assault-style weapons. Force our president to stop spewing hate. #massshootings

— Patience N Carter (@PaeCarter) August 5, 2019

She makes time, too, to speak out against gun violence, urging lawmakers to pass legislation for universal background checks and emphasizing a focus on gun violence prevention.

"No matter what you go through, no matter what you experience, none of that is going to stop you," she added.

"As cliche as it sounds, we were able to find love in a hopeless place."