Yousuf posted on his Facebook page, “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…. 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.”
This is what happened –
“The initial one was three or four” shots, said Yousuf, a sergeant who left the Marine Corps last month. “That was a shock. Three or four shots go off, and you could tell it was a high-caliber [weapon]. Everyone froze. I’m here in the back, and I saw people start pouring into the back hallway, and they just sardine-pack everyone.”
Speaking to CBS, the 24-year-old said he knew there was a door behind the panicked crowd, but people were too overwhelmed to unlatch it. “And I’m screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ ” Yousuf said. “And no one is moving because they are scared.”
As everyone stood rooted to spot, only a few feet away from safety, Yousuf knew there was “only one choice” which could save them being targeted by the gunman who could have there any moment. “Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance of getting shot and saving everyone else, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”
Yousuf’s act of heroism saved many lives that day. Asked how many people left through that exit, Yousuf told CBS that he estimated as many as 60 or 70.
“As soon as people found that door was open, they kept pouring out, and after that we just ran,” he said.