On Monday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper broke down in tears while delivering a seven-minute tribute to the 49 people who died in the shooting massacre at Orlando’s Pulse night club on Sunday, the Daily News reports.
Cooper began the segment by saying that he decided not to mention or display the shooter’s name, choosing instead to focus on the lives of those who have lost their lives in Orlando.
“We will not say the gunman’s name or show his photograph, it has been shown far too much already,” said Cooper.
The CNN anchor then proceeded by sharing photos and telling the stories of the victims in what is now recognized as the worst mass killing in the United States since 9/11.
“In the next two hours, we want to try to keep the focus where we think it belongs: on the people whose lives were cut short,” Cooper said. “They are more than a list of names. They are people who loved and who were loved.”
“We think it’s important that you hear their names,” the CNN anchor added.
You can watch Anderson Cooper’s heart-wrenching tribute to the Orlando victims by clicking on the video below.
The City of Orlando released a complete list of the victims along with their photos on their official website.
Anderson’s voice broke down numerous times in the segment as he fought back tears while delivering his tribute to Orlando victims. There were a few times when the anchor had to take a pause so he can compose himself for the difficult task of telling the victims’ stories.
He started off by declaring the name of Edward Sotomayor Jr., who worked for a travel agency focusing on the gay community before he was killed in the Orlando shooting.
“Edward Sotomayor Jr. He worked at a travel agency that catered to the gay community. His family says he was witty, charming,” Anderson said, choking back tears. “And that he always left things better than he found them. He was 34 years old.”
Anderson Cooper, who is openly gay, read on national television moving snippets on the lives of those who have died in the Orlando tragedy, as well as anecdotes from friends and family the victims have left behind after their tragic death.
Anderson visibly cried when he told the story of Juan Ramon Guerrero, another victim who came out as gay this year, and who also recently introduced his family to Christopher Leinonen. Juan had been planning on marrying Christopher before their untimely deaths in Orlando.
“Juan came out to his family just this year and was afraid they might not accept him,” Cooper added. “But they did and they embraced his boyfriend as well.”
Both Guerrero and Leinonen died at Orlando’s PULSE nightclub during the shooting. Leinonen’s mother reportedly rushed to the Orlando Regional Medical Center after the attack, not knowing if her son Christopher was among those who killed.
Anderson also told the story of 23-year-old pharmacy technician Stanley Almodovar III, who was “dancing and singing on the way to the dance club.”
Cooper paused yet again to take a deep breath before eulogizing Martin Benitez Torres, a 33-year-old college student and Puerto Rico native who visited Orlando.
Anderson looked shaken when he mentioned Akyra Monet Murray’s name — the last on the Orlando victims list.
Murray was in Orlando with her family to celebrate her graduation from West Catholic Preparatory High School.
At 2 am, Akyra sent her mother a text message pleading to pick her up from the Orlando nightclub on account of the shooting. Before long, Akyra, bloodied and fearing for her life, managed to call her mother for the last time while hiding in one of the club’s bathroom stalls.
“Akyra Monet Murray, she recently graduated from high school and was planning to go to Mercyhurst University and play basketball… She was just 18.” said Cooper.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone who have been affected by the Orlando shooting tragedy.
[Image via CNN Videos]