Chicago man loses 13 friends in Orlando shooting: 'I feel lost'

For the second night in a row, Chicagoans have gathered together on the North Side to grieve.

Monday’s vigil was held outside the Center on Halsted, which is a long-time refuge for the gay and lesbian community.

The mourners included Mayor Rahm Emanuel, religious leaders and poets, who all offered words of comfort to the community.

FOX 32 also sat down with a man who used to work at "Pulse,” and so far he's lost 13 friends with another 8 who are injured.

"I just hope one day I can wake up and it's just a joke - it's just - we've all been Punk’d, but it's reality,” Benjamin Di’Costa said.

It’s a reality that still doesn't seem real.

The place that Di’Costa knows so well, a second home at times, is now the scene of the deadliest mass shooting of its kind in US history.

"I feel numb, I feel lost, I feel vulnerable,” he said.

Now living in Chicago, Di'Costa is an HIV prevention coordinator. He moved to Chicago from Orlando where he was a dancer at "Pulse.”

"I can picture it, I can smell it, I can hear the sounds of the music and just see the smiles on everybody's faces,” Di’Costa said.

He says the nightclub was more than entertainment, and that it was a place to congregate and to be accepted.

Many of his friends died Sunday. 

“I have lost 13 and I have a handful more who are in ICU and we are still waiting to hear for many more,” Di’Costa said.

One of victims was Eddie Sotomayor.

"He was just warm and loving, and it was my first event since coming out and he just welcomed me with open arms,” Di’Costa added.

Di'Costa says most of the employees were able to escape Sunday morning, with some climbing through a window after they pulled out an air conditioning unit.

Had Di’Costa been there, he says he would've been right up front near the shooter.

"Around that time the shooting would have happened I would have been in the front door talking to people saying goodbye,” Di’Costa said.

He says there is light in a dark time. Donations have been pouring in for the victims' families.

Now, he says, he struggles to make sense of it all.

"There’s so much hatred in this world that can avoided by just love,” Di’Costa said.