TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Many people were getting ready to celebrate the New Year the last day of 1999, but Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva, 36, had other plans.
He stormed into the former Radisson Bay-Harbor Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa and killed four employees.
Rafael Barrios, Crossfit Unleashed gym part owner and full-time Tampa Fire Rescue firefighter, remembers that day very well.
A bellman at the time, he went to the hotel to pick up his paycheck.
The visit almost cost him his life. A jammed gun bought him time to get away.
“I did know the lay of the land in the sense of where all the exits and entrance were, so as soon as that happened, I immediately saw my chance, I took off for those exits,” said Barrios.
He said that being aware of your surroundings is important.
“Pay attention to what’s going on. Feel the atmosphere. Feel the energy that’s going on around you. That’s a tell-tale sign of what could come,” said Barrios.
The victims killed Monday at a business in Orlando likely didn’t have a chance. A disgruntled former employee entered the back door and shot and killed five people, before shooting himself.
Barrios suggests having a game plan at work can help you survive in an emergency.
“Know your work space. Know where the exits are. Know where the entrances are. Know the little ins and outs of the building that you’re working in on an everyday basis,” he said.
Izquierdo-Leyva is serving a life sentence for killing five people, including a woman he carjacked.
Rafael Barrios came very close to being victim number six.
“God was with me that day and I’m lucky to be here today to tell you about it,” he said.
Barrios said that workplace shootings don’t necessarily bring back bad memories. That’s because in 1999, it was a rarity.
Today, unfortunately, it’s more common, so he feels almost “de-sensitized” to it when it happens.
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