San Diego LGBT community honors a hero

SAN DIEGO, Calif., – The San Diego LGBT community honored a person they considered a hero.  He was one of the security guards at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando back in June when a gunman opened fire.

While under fire, he performed a heroic act that saved many lives that night.

“Enjoying the day, waiting for the shift to be over and didn’t see anything out of place…the same as every other Saturday night,” Yousuf adds.

For Imran Yousuf, a security guard at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the early morning of June 12 started as your typical shift, but that soon changed when he heard something unusual.  Something he last heard when he was deployed as a U.S. Marine Sergeant in Afghanistan in 2011.

“Heard one shot and your mind just goes into, what was that?  You don’t really know what it is, you just…in my head, I didn’t really say what it was following that there was a few more shots and it just went off and to me…I’m used to gun sounds,”  Yousuf explains.

Gun sounds Yousuf said weren’t from a pistol, but something more powerful.

“It was a high caliber rifle, but you don’t expect to hear it so your brain is telling you not,” Yousuf adds.

That’s when utter chaos broke out inside the club.

“People started yelling, people started to run towards the back, trying to find any escape,” he explains.

Yousuf was in the back of the club and didn’t see the gunman who was in the front part of the building.  The back was the place where everyone from the front side of the club ran when the gunman opened fire.

“It just became sardine packed back there; just too many people and no one knew what to do.  The only thing you can see in everyone’s eyes was that, I’m going to die here, right now,” Yousuf adds.

Yousuf found a way out for everyone because he knew dying in a crowded back room wasn’t an option.

“We can get out through the back here,” Yousuf began yelling.  “I started to pull all these people out.  Let’s go, get out of here!”

Everybody in that back room, about 70 including Yousuf, got out safely.  However, the danger was still too close.

“Hearing the shots go off, so it was not safe to be anywhere near there, keep moving, go far away as possible as you can,” Yousuf adds.

That’s when he said an army of Orlando police showed up and that was the first time anyone felt safe.  With danger all around, Yousuf said it was his training as a U.S. Marine that gave him the tools to think clearly and not panic.

“The mindset they teach you to be in all the time to be aware of your surroundings and stay calm under pressure has definitely helped a lot.  I’m not going to say I’m grown an incredible amount in the 6 years that I was in,” Yousuf explains.

To some, he’s a hero.  This is why he is in San Diego to receive an award from the American Military Partner’s Association, a military LGBT advocacy group.

“If I’m helping you heal, that’s what I want to do,” he adds.

He has one message for the LGBT community.

“Stand for your beliefs, stand for your morals and stand your ground,” Yousef adds.

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