Mina Justice was asleep as her son, Eddie Justice, texted her from inside the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman opened fire, slaughtering 50 and wounding more than 50 others.
Her 30-year-old son first reached out to her over text message at 2:06am with an alarming statement.
“Mommy I love you,” the first message said. “In club they shooting.”
Mina Justice tried calling her 30-year-old son but to no avail.
At 2:07 he wrote: “Trapp (sic) in bathroom.”
Then at 2:08: “I’m gonna die.”
Now wide awake, Justice dialled 911.
She sent a flurry of texts over the next several minutes.
“I’m calling them now.
“U still in there
“Answer our (sic) damn phone
The 911 dispatcher wanted her to stay on the line. She wondered what kind of danger her son was in. He was a homebody who liked to eat and work out. He liked to make everyone laugh. He worked as an accountant and lived in a condo in downtown Orlando.
She knew he was gay and at a club – and all the complications that might entail. Fear surged through her as she waited for his next message.
At 2:39, he responded: “Call them mommy … Now.”
He wrote that he was in the bathroom.
“I’m gonna die.”
Justice asked her son if anyone was hurt and which bathroom he was in.
“Lots. Yes,” he responded at 2:42.
When he didn’t text back, she sent several more messages. Was he with police?
“Text me please,” she wrote.
“No,” he wrote four minutes later. “Still here in bathroom. He has us. They need to come get us.”
“Hurry,” he wrote. “He’s in the bathroom with us.”
She asked, “Is the man in the bathroom wit u?”
At 2:50: “He’s a terror.”
Then, a final text from her son a minute later: “Yes.”
More than 15 hours after that text, Justice still hasn’t heard from her son. She and a dozen family and friends are at a hotel that has become a staging area for relatives awaiting news. Any news.
“His name has not come up yet and that’s scary. It’s just …” she paused and patted hear heart.
“It’s just, I got this feeling. I got a bad feeling.”
– with AAP