One year ago, the city of Orlando was rocked as a man by the name of Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub and opened fire. He ended up killing 49 people and wounding 53 others which made him responsible for one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of America. Monday marks one year since 49 people lost their lives and the city is still healing while always remembering those lost and the survivors still trying to figure out how to move on.
Monday, June 12, 2017, will make it exactly one year since the tragedy took place in Pulse but it is still so fresh in the minds of many.
Those who lost a family member or friend remember them every single day and wonder what life would be like with them still around. It is hard to imagine what they may be doing or where they may be going in life if things had not ended so tragically and unexpectedly at Pulse.
The city of Orlando is still trying to figure out a way to move past this tragedy even though the victims will never be forgotten. Violence has continued to plague the world over the course of the past year, but many find solace in taking some time to honor and remember those no longer here.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 11, 2017
As families try to cope with the losses of their loved ones, survivors are still trying to figure out how the horrible night in Pulse even happened. Even more so, they are bound to keep asking themselves why they were fortunate enough to make it out alive while others weren’t.
Journalist and photographer Cassi Alexandra has interviewed many of the survivors from the Pulse nightclub shooting over the last year and shared their words with ABC News. Alexandra wanted to focus on giving “the public a greater understanding of what mass shootings do to a community even after the dust settles.”
Brandon Wolf, 28, says that even a year later, it “still is very painful” after losing two friends in the shooting.
“When you talk about Pulse and you talk about how it’s impacted you, you find the topics that… don’t hurt to talk about, and you stay in that zone when you’re in public. And then it’s when you’re in private that you think about the ones that really hurt.”
Christine Leinonen was not at Pulse when the shooting took place but her son Christopher and his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, were there. After hearing of the shooting early in the morning, Christine went to an emergency room to look for her son, and that was when she learned both he and his boyfriend had been killed.
“I might still be in shock. I know I’m often in denial. It’s as if you know rationally that this massacre happened, but the brain cannot comprehend it, or I should say the heart. The heart and soul cannot comprehend that level of evil.”
Many don’t seem to realize just how damaging this horrible night was for so many people. The 49 who lost their lives will never be able to speak on their final thoughts and feelings while loved ones and survivors still deal with everything that happened on every single day.
Many of the wounds are more than just mental as Keinon Carter knows after surviving being shot twice while at Pulse. Carter was declared dead two times before being brought back for good, but his friend, Antonio Brown, was not so lucky as he lost his life.
After losing massive amounts of weight and going through more than 20 surgeries, Carter believes he must continue to persevere in life.
“Even though I’m a victim, or a survivor – whatever the case may be – I still try to live as normal, be as normal as possible. People get depressed. Of course, I’m going to get depressed, I’m going to have my moments. I’ve got scars and stuff up and down my body, and stuff now that I continue to look at … a lot of stuff. I’m going to get depressed here and there, you know what I’m saying?”
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to move on, I’ve got to push forward, because nobody else can do it for me. I can’t just give up.”
Walking or driving past Pulse in Orlando will not only show you that the building is still there and standing tall, but that the victims are always remembered. There are often flowers and gifts and tributes left out next to the building and the street to make sure they never go without.
As reported one year ago by the Miami Herald, the names of all 49 victims were released, and they each had a story to tell with their lives. Ranging in age from 18 to 50, here are those who were lost far too early at Pulse:
- Edward Sotomayor Jr. – 34
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera – 36
- Stanley Almodovar III – 33
- Mercedez Marisol Flores – 26
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado – 35
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo – 20
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz – 22
- Luis S. Vielma – 22
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla – 25
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez – 21
- Juan Ramon Guerrero – 22
- Kimberly Morris – 37
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez – 25
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez – 35
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon – 37
- Martin Benitez Torres – 33
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice – 30
- Miguel Angel Honorato – 30
- Javier Jorge-Reyes – 40
- Deonka Deidra Drayton – 32
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez – 31
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero – 26
- Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan – 24
- Cory James Connell – 21
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez – 37
- Luis Daniel Conde – 39
- Darryl Roman Burt II – 29
- Jerald Arthur Wright – 31
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez – 25
- Frank Hernandez – 27
- Paul Terrell Henry – 41
- Amanda Alvear – 25
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez – 27
- Enrique L. Rios Jr. – 25
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala – 33
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool – 49
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez – 50
- Joel Rayon Paniagua – 32
- Antonio Davon Brown – 29
- Tevin Eugene Crosby – 25
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega – 24
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat – 19
- Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz – 24
- Shane Evan Tomlinson – 33
- Juan Chevez-Martinez – 25
- Christopher Andrew Leinonen – 32
- Akiyra Monet Murray – 18
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro – 28
- Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez – 25
It is truly hard to believe that a year has already passed since those 49 innocent people lost their lives inside of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. All they wanted to do was go out for the evening and have a good time, but one many took it upon himself to take what wasn’t his. While the city continues to heal and the survivors figure out ways to move on, this one-year mark since the shooting will certainly not be the only or last time the victims are honored and remembered.
[Featured Image by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]