Victims in South Howard hookah lounge shooting speak, say man who died took bullet for others

Gary Omar Rivera Montanez charged with murder
Posted at 6:33 AM, Apr 01, 2017

Some of those who were shot outside a Tampa club are speaking out about the ordeal, and the actions taken that helped save lives.

Best friends Justin King and Donald Jocelin were standing in the parking lot of Palace Hookah Lounge about to head home, when a night of fun turned tragic.

"I was looking at him when i heard the gunshots.  And as soon as i heard the gunshots I jumped onto him (Donald Jocelin)," said King.

Donald then grabbed a young woman standing next to him, and they all ran for cover back into the club.

"I looked down and was like, 'Wow.  He really shot me,'" said King.

King, a US Air Force member, and says his military training kicked in. He applied a tourniquet to his wound, and tried to make sure everyone who had been shot stayed alert and conscious.

Police say 22-year-old Gary Omar Rivera Montanez was aggressively flirting with several women in the club.  As the business was closing, witnesses say he started hitting on 24-year-old Heaven Mayo in the parking lot.  One of her friends and a club bouncer told Montanez to back off.

"When he walked away I heard him say, 'I'm going to remember all your faces,'" said D'asia McClery.

Montanzez then got in his car and minutes later, witnesses say he drove in front of the lounge and started shooting out the window.

"You just saw all this smoke and just heard pop pop pop," said McClery.

Justin King, Donald Jocelin, Heaven Mayo and Tobiasz Cudnik were all hit by the gunfire, but escaped with minor injuries.

D'Asia McClery and Yaremis Hernandez say 34-year-old Mike Franck jumped in front of them taking a bullet to the chest, killing him. 

"If you could stand in front of somebody you don't know without hesitation and take a bullet for them. It was crazy how he just stood up and was there," said McClery.

"He just came out of nowhere to save us," said Hernandez.

Right now, the friends are glad to be alive, and that the person alleged to have pulled the trigger is in jail.

"It all was just senseless acts," said Donald Jocelin.

Montanez is now charged with first degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.