Mina Justice was sound asleep when she received the first text from her son, Eddie Justice, who was in the gay nightclub when a gunman opened fire, leaving 50 dead and more than 50 wounded.
This is the conversation she had over text message with her 30-year-old son:
“Mommy I love you,” the first message said. It was 2:06 a.m.
“In club they shooting.”
Mina Justice tried calling her 30-year-old son. No answer.
Alarmed and half awake, she tapped out a response.
At 2:07 a.m., he wrote: “Trapp in bathroom.”
Justice asked what club, and he responded: “Pulse. Downtown. Call police.”
Then at 2:08: “I’m gonna die.”
Now wide awake, Justice dialed 911.
She sent a flurry of texts over the next several minutes.
“I’m calling them now.
U still in there
Answer our damn phone
The 911 dispatcher wanted her to stay on the line. She wondered what kind of danger her son was in. He was normally 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.
“Lives in a sky house, like the Jeffersons,” she would say. “He lives rich.”
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 a.m., he responded:
“Call them mommy
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 a.m.
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.”
At 2:49 a.m., she told him the police were there and to let her know when he saw them.
“Hurry,” he wrote. “He’s in the bathroom with us.”
She asked, “Is the man in the bathroom wit u?”
At 2:50 a.m.: “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 her heart. “It’s just, I got this feeling. I got a bad feeling.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.