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A Florida police officer recently reunited with one of the men he saved during the Orlando nightclub massacre in June, when a gunman killed 49 people, and now the pair says they'll share a bond forever.
"The way we met was such a horrific event," Officer Omar Delgado, who's currently on a leave of absence from the Eatonville Police Department, told TODAY. "It's weird to describe the bond we created in such a short time. I consider him my brother."
Delgado surprised Angel Colon, 26 — one of the men whose lives he saved at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 — at a Zumba convention where Colon, who teaches the workout, was honored Thursday.
"I was so surprised to see him!" Colon told TODAY. "I consider him family now so he will always be in my life. He's my hero. And I thank the Zumba community for bringing us together again."
The pair shared a tearful embrace on the convention's stage. It was the first time they'd seen each other since Delgado visited Colon at the hospital, shortly after the shooting.
"This past month has been the worst month of my life," Colon told the crowd while clutching a walker so he could stand. "But going through this, there's been nothing but love and support from everyone."
He added that while he once thought he had few friends, now "I just see all this love" and "people that love me."
Delgado, 44, was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene at the nightclub, when the gunman was still on the loose inside. He recalled hearing gunshots and pulling bodies outside to safety, including Colon, who's still recovering after he was shot six times, Delgado said.
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"I grabbed him and starting dragging him — mind you, the floor is slippery, it's filled with alcohol and liquor, and there's blood everywhere," he said, adding that he had to stay low, dragging Colon's body over the broken glass, because the shooter was still firing.
Since the shooting, Delgado has struggled to return to normal life, still shaken by the violence.
"You can't get that out of your head," he said. "The smell of being in that club, it's hard to describe. The smell of death. The smell of gunpowder in the air. It's such a traumatic event."
He returned to work a few weeks after the shooting, in time to work the Fourth of July weekend.
"Of all weekends to come back — all those fireworks, I was a mess," he said. "I was like, can I do this? It took me almost a half hour just to put my uniform on. I worked for 12 hours and it was rough. It was hell."
Delgado later decided to take a leave of absence but hopes he'll be able to return to work soon, and is seeking help from a therapist. One woman even started a GoFundMe page to help pay for his counseling.
"I've been an officer for almost nine years," he said. "It's all I know. I wouldn't give this job up for anything... but it was too much."
For now, he's only certain about one thing: that he and Colon's lives will forever be linked.
"Because of this tragic event, I just inherited a brother," he said. "I really wish it didn't happen this way. I wish we'd met in other circumstances. But I feel like God saved Angel. He didn't want him to die there. He had a purpose for him, and now he has to make the most out of his second chance."
"There were a lot of people in that club who didn't make it and that haunts me every single day," Delgado continued. "Knowing that this monster would come in and do such a senseless act, and for what? We'll never know."