I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was woken up 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 that morning at the club. An Orlando officer was working at the 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.
The final number of lives lost was 49. 49 innocent people died in a totally unnecessary act of violence. It was a night that Orlando will never forget. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that this happened here. In my town.
This past weekend and all day, and night, tonight there are so many amazing events going on to remember those lost and the tragedy that our city endured. Memorials are all over town and on the internet. Amazing pictures, stories, and remembrances of what happened. Tonight I plan to join thousands of follow Orlandoans at Lake Eola to celebrate the lives of those 49 people. It will be an emotional night, but one that we all need.
So today, please think about those lives lost and the family and friends left behind to pick up the pieces. Give your loved ones an extra hug, be kind to a stranger, and thank whomever you pray to for the life that you still have to live.