57ºF

Former JU football player injured in Orlando shooting

Rodney Sumter working as bartender when he was shot at Pulse nightclub

A former Jacksonville University football player was one of the 53 injured in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday.

Rodney Sumter, 27, was working as a bartender when the gunman opened fire inside Pulse about 2 a.m., killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. 

Sumter was shot three times. As of Friday, he was still in the hospital recovering. 

His family has been by his side at the hospital the entire time.

"I thank God every day. I thank God every day that he didn't take my nephew," Sumter's uncle Leroy King said. "It's been hard. When I sit down and look at him, it hurts. It just hurts to see him. He's not the type of person that deserves this."

Sumter played football growing up in Jacksonville and then he played at Jacksonville University. 

He moved to Orlando, where he worked as a bartender and dancer at Mango's Tropical Cafe. But he had the night off and was bartending at Pulse when the mass shooting happened. 

"He's not really talking about it. I keep asking my sister while we have it on the television, we had to change the channel. But it was all on the news," King said. "We don't really force him to say a whole lot because when he talks, he's in pain too."

Sumter has two young children and a host of other family members supporting and praying for him during his recovery. All of them keenly aware of how different things could be.

"My family is going through a whole lot now. But I just couldn't imagine what we would go through if we had to make arrangements this week. I thank God for it," King said.  

Sumter will likely have to go to rehab after leaving the hospital, his uncle said. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with Sumter's medical expenses.