Florida shooting: Outpouring of love in Orlando

Massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Floriday prompt outpouring of support for LGBT community from across the country.

I am currently in Orlando, Florida, covering the aftermath of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub.

It is a bar that caters to the LGBT community.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, it became the scene of the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Forty-nine people who went out to have fun, relax and to dance were slaughtered.

As the night was coming to a close police say Omar Mateen opened fire on the people in the crowded club with a semi-automatic weapon and handgun.


We are starting to hear the details of what happened. The people who survived have started to tell their terrifying stories. They describe unimaginable carnage.

I had an idea of what they would say after talking to one of the doctors who treated the wounded that night.

He described the pattern of wounds as if a firehouse was being sprayed right to left, left to right.

The victims are painting a common picture. They say Mateen laughed as people begged for their lives.

They said that as the wounded lay on the floor coated with broken glass and blood, he came back and meticulously fired into the bodies on the ground.

They believe he wanted to make sure everyone who didn’t make it out was actually dead.

I talked to a gentleman named Santos Rodriguez. His older brother Jeff texted to say that he was going to die and that he loved his family.

He had been shot three times. He was bleeding out. He was hiding in a bathroom.

Santos says he didn’t believe his brother, so Jeff sent him a picture of the people he was hiding with in the bathroom.

The spire of One World Trade Center is lit in rainbow colours to honour the shooting victims [Reuters/Andrew Kelly]
The spire of One World Trade Center is lit in rainbow colours to honour the shooting victims [Reuters/Andrew Kelly]

He shared it with me. It shows faces of abject terror. Layers of people covering each other. One man was holding his hand over his mouth obviously trying to keep himself from screaming.

This was a picture of people dead and dying. It was in that moment I realised the terror these people must have felt.

I can’t imagine what it was like to live through three hours of that hell. Jeff Rodrigues is in critical condition right now but his family says he will survive.

He will recover. He may be paralysed from the waist down but his brother believes he will fight back to full health. He explained that Jeff’s favourite thing to do in life is to dance.

‘Outpouring of love’

I have covered my share of tragedies, but there is something happening here worth noting.

There seems to be an absence of hate and of anger that is usually, understandably, always present.

I haven’t heard that expressed by anyone that I’ve talk to and I’ve talked to a lot of people.

I went to the LGBT Center today and I witnessed car after car dropping off supplies for the victims, their families and the survivors.

I watched the executive director, Terry DeCarlo, navigate a sea of volunteers and demands.

He is hearing so many horrifying stories, taking them in but he keeps going. His mission is to help the families bury the dead.

Company donations

A mother called today and asked for help buying a suit so that her son could be buried in it. There are 49 stories just like that.

He is also helping the survivors and their families. He told me a company donated 200 three-bedroom condos for them to move into. They are going to be here a while.

He and his volunteers will stock their houses with food and the basic essentials. His goal is to make them comfortable so that they only have to focus on helping their family member heal. He will have the resources to help.

The online campaigns have raised more than $8m.

He told me that the response was an “incredible outpouring of love”.

I don’t know what to say after that. So I will leave this here; there is a choice we can make.

We can remember Orlando for the carnage, the hate and the bigotry. Or we can remember the thousands who did what they could to send the message that hate will not define us.

It is not who we are as human beings. It is a choice we all have to make.

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Source: Al Jazeera