Police who were the first to respond to the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando this June are still haunted by what they saw.
If Officer Omar Delgado hears a particular ring tone, he told The New York Times, it instantly transports him back to that night.
Gerry Realin, another policeman who responded to the scene, is still experiencing similar symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The man who went to Pulse that day is not the same one who came home,” his wife, Jessica Realin, told the Times. “He shuts down, turns a different colour; his breathing changes.”
The police were locked in a standoff with shooter Omar Mateen for hours, who killed 49 people that night before officers finally shot him down.
Frances Robles writes for The Times that while victims of mass shootings often receive compensation to deal with the tragedy, first responders don’t usually get the same treatment. Both Delgado and Realin are struggling to pay their bills, particularly the ones piling up for therapy and mental health treatment.
“Anyone who has requested any type of assistance during this process has received unconditional assistance from the city of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department,” Orlando’s deputy police chief, Orlando Rolon, told the Times.
Delgado and Realin each have GoFundMe pages set up to help them out:
“I still have some sick time left and some vacation time left,” Delgado said. “If I have to use that, so be it, but there’s going to come a point in time that that is going to stop.”
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