A mother of 11 and two-time cancer survivor died heroically in the Pulse nightclub shooting while protecting her 21-year-old son from a barrage of bullets by acting as a human shield. The 49-year-old mother, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, was at the Pulse nightclub with her 21-year-old son Isaiah Henderson when Omar Mateen opened fire at the venue killing 49 people and injured dozens more.
NBC News reports that 49-year-old Brenda Lee Marquez McCool went to Pulse nightclub in Orlando with her 21-year-old son Isaiah as she had done numerous times in the past. The mother of 11 loved to dance, and her son Isaiah was gay. Therefore, the pair frequented the Pulse nightclub together and were regulars for salsa night. Little did the pair know when they left for a night of dancing and fun that it would end with McCool giving her life to protect her son.
Khalisha Pressley, one of McCool’s daughters, says that her mother went to the nightclub with Isaiah to enjoy the Latin music and to dance. However, as the doting mother danced with her son, gunman Omar Mateen entered the building and began firing on the crowd. Pressley says that Isaiah was forced to watch in horror as his mother sacrificed herself to save his life. Pressley says that Isaiah was able to survive after their mother covered his body with her own, acting as a human shield. Following the horrific murders, Pressley says her brother is struggling emotionally as he feels like it is “his fault” for what happened to their mother.
“He had to watch his mother die. He saw everybody getting killed. He feels it was his fault.”
According to the New York Daily News, McCool knowingly put herself in harm’s way to protect her son. McCool’s sister-in-law Ada Pressley says that when the gunman opened fire on Pulse, the mother immediately told Isaiah to “get down” and placed herself between the gunman and her child.
“Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah and she got in front of him. She was shot dead. That’s how much she loved her kids. If it weren’t for her, he’d of been shot.”
A GoFundMe account set up for McCool’s 11 children notes that not only was Brenda the matriarch of a large family but also a two-time cancer survivor. According to Farrell Marshall, Brenda’s fifth oldest child, the mother had suffered through and survived two different types of cancer and was known as a caring and wonderful woman.
“This wonderful and caring woman known as a mother of 11 children left behind from fighting 2 types of cancer and now to be taken off this earth from what we call ‘Insanity.'”
Just prior to her senseless death, Brenda had posted a fun-loving video to Facebook showing people happily dancing to Latin music at the Pulse nightclub.
Brenda’s large family have all expressed their grief over the woman that they say was a “mom” to everyone. The family says they are taken aback by all of the support they have received following the horrific shooting and say that Brenda was a fighter who should have been gone eight years ago to cancer. Brenda’s son Robert Vinnie Pressley says his mother wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way than protecting her child.
“She passed away doing what she loved, supporting her kids and having fun with her kids. She wasn’t supposed to make it, she had cancer, she was a fighter. My mom was a fighter. They told her she wasn’t supposed to live eight years ago.”
He goes on to say that he knows his mother wouldn’t want people to be sad but to rather celebrate her life by being happy and to have a party in her honor.
“She wouldn’t want you guys to be sad, she’d want you to be happy. Celebrating her. My and my brothers and sisters we’re doing what we have to do but my mom wouldn’t want us to be sad she’d want us to celebrate. She always told me that when she passed away she didn’t want us to be sad she wanted us to party and celebrate her life because my mom, she never had any regrets.”
[Image via Facebook/Brenda McCool]