Orlando was bloodied three times in a row, starting with the shooting of singer Christine Grimmie on Friday night, June 10, 2016, followed by the Pulse nightclub massacre early Sunday morning, June 12, and ending with the Disney World alligator snatching of a two-year-old boy Tuesday evening, June 14. All three events opened in happy circumstances, transitioned to horror, and culminated in tears.
The tragedies occurring in an uncanny sequence every two days left Orlando bloodied and reeling with grief as witnesses tried to cope with what they had seen. Just as “tourist Mecca” Florida starts ramping up for warm-day festivities, the unforeseen events have thrown a wet rag on fun-times ahead.
According to The Independent, Christina Grimmie, 22, was signing autographs at a merchandise table after performing with the band Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando on Saturday night when her path to stardom was bloodied. She was shot multiple times by St. Petersburg resident Kevin James Loibl, 27, who had queued up with fans to get her autograph.
As Grimmie’s brother, Marcus, tackled Loibl in front of shocked onlookers, the perpetrator turned the gun on himself and ended his own life. Police believe Loibl travelled specifically to the Orlando venue to target Grimmie, but his motive in the bloodied turn of events remains a mystery.
American singer and songwriter Christina Victoria Grimmie rose to prominence as a YouTuber covering other musicians’ songs, and she earned mainstream success from her participation in the NBC singing competition The Voice in 2014, where she placed third. She is also remembered for her debut EP, Find Me, which she released in 2011. She’d tweeted her fans to join her at her Orlando concert, where she mingled with them in a meet-and-greet before the venue was bloodied.
During a Monday night vigil in her hometown of Evesham Township, New Jersey, Grimmie’s brother Marcus also paid tribute to the victims of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub bloodied by a shooting just a few miles away from the concert venue. The Pulse massacre happened a day after Grimmie succumbed to her gunshot wounds in a hospital on Saturday.
According to NBC News, Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday, causing 49 deaths and 53 injuries. Latin Night was winding down at the Orlando club when Mateen entered and fired 110 rounds of ammunition, leaving customers bloodied in different horrendous ways.
After a three-hour impasse, during which the Orlando gunman claimed to have a suicide vest and declared loyalty to the Islamic State, police knocked down a wall with a BearCat armored vehicle and killed him. The action also freed his hostages, many of them bloodied but grateful to be alive.
Investigators subsequently found out Mateen’s wife suspected he was going to attack a homosexual nightclub and pleaded with him not to do anything violent. Her failure to warn police after he embarked on his overnight mission could make her almost as culpable as the Orlando gunman with bloodied hands.
Federal Bureau of Investigation sources seem to believe that the Orlando shooter’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, had an inkling of her husband’s sinister designs after she admitted having once driven him to Pulse to scope it out. She also said she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster that would lead to events bloodied by his actions.
What FBI investigators learned from Noor was that her husband assured her he was simply going to see friends when he took off on the two-hour drive north to Orlando from their home in Port St. Lucie. She suspected his motives, and her fears were realized when he bloodied the Pulse nightclub with his Sig Sauer MCX.223-caliber rifle and his Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
Twenty-seven of the Orlando gunman’s victims were reported still hospitalized on Tuesday, June 14. Six were in critical condition, according to hospital officials who considered the death toll at risk of rising because two of those patients were “profoundly ill.”
In another development, the body of two-year-old boy Lane Graves was found intact about 1:45 p.m., Wednesday, not far from the spot where he was snatched by an alligator on Tuesday night, June 14, at Lake Buena Vista, which is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford Metropolitan Area. According to CNN, Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters that the boy’s bloodied body, which was recovered by the Orange County dive team, had only a few puncture wounds.
The disappearance of the boy, who witnesses said was pulled by an alligator into a lagoon during evening leisure hours of a hotel in Orlando’s Walt Disney World, caused much public anguish and consternation. The boy’s father, Matt Graves, tried to rescue him from the alligator’s ambush-attack but came out of the encounter unsuccessful and with a bloodied hand. Lifeguard help was summoned, but the boy was long gone.
Orlando rescue workers spent the night and the next day searching for the boy before his bloodied body was found intact not far from where the alligator had grabbed him. Having received expert opinion on the state of the corpse, Sheriff Demings said this:
“Of course, the autopsy has to confirm that, but there is likely no question in my mind that the child was drowned by the alligator.”
As the latest horror in Orlando’s last few tragic days, the body was reportedly located in six feet of murky water, about 10 to 15 yards from where little Lane Graves was bloodied and spirited away into the night by an alligator.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]