I was woken up yesterday morning by the sound of my phone telling me that I had a text message around 8 am. I had planned on sleeping in so I ignored it. Unfortunately about 10 minutes passed and I couldn’t ignore it, what if something was wrong? It was a text from my mom that said “Did you hear what happened? The gay club shooting?” Huh. I did what any normal person would and switched over to Facebook to find out what was going on. This was when I read there was a mass shooting at a club called Pulse here in Orlando and over 20+ people were dead. Um, what?
By the time i’d cooked breakfast and sat down to eat it that number was up to over 50 with another 53 people in the hospital. A man had opened fire early yesterday morning at the club. An Orlando officer was working at the Pulse nightclub at about 2 a.m. when the shooting happened. That officer engaged in a gun battle with the suspect at the club. The gunman closed the doors to the club, and the shooting became a hostage situation from there. The shooting at Pulse nightclub became the worst mass shooting in U.S. history after law enforcement officers were able to enter the club and secure the scene and found at least 50 bodies inside.
After the shooting nearby hospitals were on lock down, streets were closed, and everyone was just looking for answers. After about 20 minutes of reading updates I did the only thing I could think of to do, I got dressed and headed to the closest blood bank. I arrived close to noon and found a SUPER long line. Tons of people waiting outside in the sun to give blood. I was shocked, amazing, and super impressed by my fellow neighbors.
I was even more impressed when people started showing up with bottled water, gatorade, and snacks for those waiting to donate. Car after car showed up with supplies. Families brought their kids out to walk up and down the growing line giving out drinks and snacks. Soon local businesses started pitching in as well. The blood bank shared a parking lot with a Home Depot store and they brought out a generator and fans, then pop up tents to keep people out of the sun. Another small restaurant in the plaza started cooking hot dogs, while pizza chains started showing up with more food. Sometimes there isn’t a lot you can do to help in a situation like this, but these folks were doing what they could.
Did I mention that Pulse was a gay/lesbian night club? “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate,” President Obama said in an address to the nation from the White House. While the violence could have hit any American community, “this is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” he said. And even more heartbreaking that it was OUR community.
Even as I write this I still can’t get over the fact that this happened here in Orlando. You see stories of shootings and tragedies in other towns and always think about how awful it is, but you never really think about it happening where you live. It’s hard to believe that people all around the country are thinking about my city right now.
I won’t get into all the “political” aspects of this because that isn’t the point. All that matters to me is that a man walked into a room full of innocent people yesterday and took their lives. He killed people, destroyed families, and broke hearts.
So today – please hug your loved ones a little longer, tell people you love them, and do what you can to support your community, regardless of where you live. If you want to help out our community, please do that as well. Violence sucks, regardless of the cause, and it needs to stop.