Gulfport man at the Pulse: 'My main thought was hide' - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Gulfport man at the Pulse: 'My main thought was hide'

Gulfport native Joshua McGill, 26, managed to escape from an Orlando nightclub during what authorities are calling the worst shooting in U.S. history. (Photo source: Facebook) Gulfport native Joshua McGill, 26, managed to escape from an Orlando nightclub during what authorities are calling the worst shooting in U.S. history. (Photo source: Facebook)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Like so many others, Josh McGill spent Saturday night at the Pulse.

“Everyone was having fun,” the Gulfport native said. “Typical night. They always have last call at 1:45 a.m.”

McGill and his two roommates stood near a door leading to an outdoor patio. It all seemed so normal.

And then, “We heard the three initial shots,” the nursing student remembered. “You just hear gunshot after gunshot after gunshot and that was very scary. And my main thought was hide.”

The 26-year-old and his roommates darted out the patio door. In a Skype interview with WLOX News Now, the Gulfport man tried to find the right words to explain the chaos. He compared it to an ant hill someone just stepped on. People scattered, running in all sorts of directions, unsure what was happening behind them.

“We heard people say run. We saw people starting to flee,” he remembered.  “We went back outside, hopped the fence. I jumped and ducked behind a car.  I hid for a good two to five minutes, which felt like forever.”

While behind that car, McGill noticed a dazed looking man wobbling through the parking lot. That man had gunshot wounds in each arm and in his back. McGill ripped off his shirt and tightly wrapped it around one arm. He used the victim’s shirt to act as a tourniquet on his other arm. 

“It’s kind of like your adrenaline kicks in,” McGill said. “I didn’t want someone to die on my watch.”

McGill learned the victim’s name was Rodney, a 27-year-old from Jacksonville.

“We kind of bobbed and weaved through the parking lot to get to the perimeter,” the Gulfport nursing student said.

Police set up that perimeter. When rescue personnel saw the two men, they rushed them to a squad car. Once in the car, McGill was told to tightly clench Rodney against his body, hoping that would prevent blood loss from the back wounds. McGill had one other responsibility. Keep Rodney conscious.

“I asked him questions,” he said. “I told him it was going to be okay. I just wanted to help him and hoped he would stay alive.”

At least 50 people died from the hail bullets inside the Orlando bar. More than four dozen others got rushed to a nearby hospital. Rodney was one of the wounded. Orlando Regional Medical Center was just blocks from the mass casualty scene.

During that short ride, McGill remembered saying a prayer with Rodney, knowing the time was right for a higher power to intervene.

McGill posted his experience on Facebook. A frantic family member looking for someone named Rodney contacted the Gulfport man. It turned out the man McGill saved was Rodney Sumpter, that person’s relative. And at last check, the shooting victim was alive.

“I’m scared, but during that process the only thing I was worried about was keeping him safe.”

Because of that Facebook post, national media contacted McGill. He was one of the first witnesses to go on TV and share his ordeal at the Pulse. In each interview, he appeared calm and collected. In the WLOX News Now Skype interview, he admitted that wasn’t the case a few hours earlier.

“I did have my little breakdown after Rodney was taken away,” said McGill.

McGill went to the Pulse with two roommates. They all survived the mass shooting. And for that, he feels blessed.

As for his act of heroism, he simply said, “I wanted to make sure I could do the best that I could do."

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Texas church shootingMass shootingsMore>>

  • Records: Las Vegas gunman was germophobe, possibly bipolar

    Records: Las Vegas gunman was germophobe, possibly bipolar

    Friday, January 19 2018 11:16 PM EST2018-01-20 04:16:09 GMT
    Sunday, January 21 2018 4:30 AM EST2018-01-21 09:30:53 GMT
    Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock was a high-stakes gambler on a losing streak, obsessed with cleanliness, possibly bipolar and having difficulties with his live-in girlfriend. But the motive behind the massacre...More >>
    Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock was a high-stakes gambler on a losing streak, obsessed with cleanliness, possibly bipolar and having difficulties with his live-in girlfriend. But the motive behind the massacre that killed 58 people remains unknown.More >>
  • Vegas gunman studied SWAT tactics, music site before attack

    Vegas gunman studied SWAT tactics, music site before attack

    Friday, January 19 2018 2:05 PM EST2018-01-19 19:05:09 GMT
    Friday, January 19 2018 11:21 PM EST2018-01-20 04:21:36 GMT

    Investigators have still not discovered what motivated Stephen Paddock to embark on the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history but determined that he researched SWAT tactics ahead of the massacre and...

    More >>

    Investigators have still not discovered what motivated Stephen Paddock to embark on the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history but determined that he researched SWAT tactics ahead of the massacre and investigated other possible targets.

    More >>
  • The Latest: Timeline offers look at Vegas shooter's moves

    The Latest: Timeline offers look at Vegas shooter's moves

    Friday, January 19 2018 1:25 PM EST2018-01-19 18:25:56 GMT
    Friday, January 19 2018 6:49 PM EST2018-01-19 23:49:07 GMT
    Investigators say they have still not determined why Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire from his high-rise hotel suite, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds.More >>
    Investigators say they have still not determined why Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire from his high-rise hotel suite, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds.More >>
Powered by Frankly