Former Marine Credited With Saving Lives of Dozens in Nightclub Attack

June 16, 2016 11:14 am Last Updated: June 16, 2016 1:02 pm

A former U.S. Marine is being credited with saving the lives as many as 70 people in the Orlando shooting.

“There are a lot of people naming me a hero and as a former Marine and Afghan veteran I honestly believe I reacted by instinct,” Imran Yousuf wrote Monday

Yousuf, a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub, wrote that the attention should be focused not on his actions—but on the victims. “I have lost a few of my friends that night which I am just finding out about right now and while it might seem that my actions are heroic I decided that the others around me needed to be saved as well and so I just reacted,” he said.

Speaking with CBS News, Yousuf, who served in Afghanistan, described what he heard and saw. “You could just tell it was a high caliber.”

As gunshots rang out, he said terrified people crowded around a locked door in attempt to get out. “I’m screaming ‘Open the door! Open the door!'” Yousuf told CBS. “And no one is moving because they are scared.

“There was only one choice—either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”

By his estimate, Yousuf said 70 people were able to escape the nightclub safely through that door.

“I wish I could’ve saved more,” he told CBS. “…There’s a lot of people that are dead.”

In all, 49 people were killed in what has been called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history—and the worst terrorist attack since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C.

The Marine Corps Times says Yousuf served as a as an engineer equipment electrical systems technician in the Marine Corps from June 2010 to May 2016. He went to Afghanistan in 2011.

Yousuf stressed people should focus on the victims and their loved ones—not him.

“We need to show our love and profound efforts to the families and friends who have lost someone and help them cope with what happened and turn our efforts to those who truly need it,” he added. “Once again I sincerely thank everyone and bless all those who are recovering and trying to make sense of it all.”

Yousuf wasn’t the only American military veteran in the nightclub that night. Antonio Davon Brown, 29, was killed by gunfire. Brown had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, according to reports.