Sirens blared in the middle of the night. I awoke disoriented and completely unaware of the ongoing carnage.
On June 12, 2016, forty-nine people were murdered and fifty-three injured in the deadliest terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Six years later, the pain and trauma undoubtedly endures for the victims’ families, survivors and their families, first responders, hospital staff, and the community at large.
Orlando had never witnessed a horrifyingly senseless mass slaughter of this magnitude, nor could anyone conceive of such a thing happening so close to home.
I was safe within the confines of my downtown apartment a few blocks away, awakened by the sirens and hovering of helicopters overhead. It wasn’t until the next morning that many of us learned the full and incomprehensible extent of what had occurred.
Pulse was founded in 2004 and steadily grew as one of area’s most innovative gay nightclubs. For twelve years, they remained a staple of Orlando nightlife, raising cultural awareness of various issues and hosting multiple themed nights throughout the week. On the night of the massacre, Pulse was hosting a “Latin Night,” drawing close to three-hundred people.
The vile, deranged Pulse shooter had sought out soft targets throughout the Central Florida area months before the massacre. His professed allegiance to ISIS, animosity toward US foreign policy, and failure as a human being were just part of his own twisted motives. He remains a forgotten mass murderer. We seek only to remember the victims who were in the prime of their lives.
Far removed from the horror of that evening, I was still shaken by its close proximity to where I lived. Through the days, weeks, and months that followed, I captured much of what I had witnessed, a grieving community coming together in unprecedented ways.
The morning after, throngs of residents filled the streets under the blazing sun to donate blood. Hundreds more were turned away. And that was just the beginning of a long recovery ahead. Pulse greatly affected me as it has affected everyone in varying ways.
My video montage shows part of what was going on back then in paying tribute to the promising lives lost or those forever altered six years ago in Orlando, Florida.
Check out the onePulse Foundation for more insight.