HARAHAN, LA (WVUE) - Orlando nightclub shooting victim and Metairie native, Leonel Melendez emerged from a coma on Thursday but is still being treated in an Orlando ICU, according to his brother David Melendez.
David Melendez spent his Sunday afternoon at The Kamp Bar in Harahan, as part of a fundraiser for his brother.
"Some people, out here, I have no idea who they are, and they still want to be out here donating to my brother, to my family," Melendez said.
The event featured dozens of donated items in a silent auction, a live band, food and drinks for people who wanted to support Melendez as he recovers.
During the fundraiser, David Melendez recounted the hours before his family learned his brother was fighting for his life after he was shot in the Orlando mass shooting.
"Once he did not talk to us, reply to us, we knew something was going on and we said, 'hey we gotta go, we gotta go find out, first hand, what's going on,'" Melendez said.
Melendez rushed to Orlando in search of his brother, fearing the worst.
"It's hard to describe a moment like that, it really is. I never ever thought I would live something like this and go through it because one moment you think your brother is deceased and the next you're sitting in a room with a bunch of FBI agents and doctors," Melendez said. "And then they tell us he's alive, so you go from one moment to the other."
Melendez said his brother has begun making eye contact and even squeezed his hand on command, but he doesn't think he remembers the horrific scene inside Pulse nightclub.
"I don't think he knows what happened, I know he's awake and all, but I'm not sure he's aware of what happened to him," Melendez said.
Now his family hopes, once he's given the green light from doctors, the money they raise can help bring Leonel home.
"That's what this is all about, to make sure we have the funds for him to get out of there and be able to transport him back to New Orleans where he belongs, where everyone obviously loves him," Melendez said.
If you'd like to make a donation you can visit this website to help out Leonel Melendez and his family.