NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A young man who moved to New Orleans from the Orlando area, seven days ago, says he's struggling to cope with the massacre.
Like people all across the country, Jordan Bontrager woke Sunday morning to the horrifying news.
He explains, "My phone started blowing up somewhere around 4:00 in the morning and I missed a lot of calls."
But unlike many, Bontrager had a personal connection to the mass shooting in Orlando.
"One at a time, I just recognized faces, recognized names, had to look through two or three Facebook photos to go, I've seen them before, I know them," Bontrager explained.
The 23-year-old frequented Pulse nightclub often over the years. He just moved to New Orleans the week of the tragedy, from an area outside Orlando, leaving behind friends and loved ones. Bontrager says many of them were caught in the gunfire. Some survived, while some didn't.
"I don't care who you are or what you believe or what religion you come from, we have lost souls in this world and that's the bottom line," Bontrager commented.
"Right now is the time to grieve for each family member that lost a loved one or still has somebody in the hospital, injured," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday.
The grieving process won't be easy.
Bontrager says, "It's going to be years, it's going to be decades before this is just a scar, not a wound."
Bontrager says he's looking for help in his new home of New Orleans, for ways to cope. But can't help replaying the events of Sunday morning over and over again in his head.
"I know if I had been at Pulse, I would've been one of the heroes who put down his dang life trying to make sure my friends got out alive," Bontrager said.
Call it divine intervention or a higher power, but something kept the Florida native from being there, and for that, he's eternally grateful.
Bontrager moved to New Orleans for his job and to live in a more diverse, and accepting community.