Relatives, friends, and survivors of the Orlando nightclub massacre stood outside Pulse as candles lit behind the stars with the names of each of the 49 patrons killed, as they remember the anniversaries of the worst mass shooting in the modern United States. Date.
They hugged each other outside the closed gay club, and at 2:02 a.m., exactly the time the gunman Omar Mateen started shooting inside the club, it was a minute of silence. Then they read the names of each of the deceased patrons.
Many wore black, and some wore spectral “Orlando United” shirts and ball caps.
Dozens of other shepherds were seriously injured during the June 12 massacre.
“Time really flies by,” said Orlando Torres, who hid in the bathroom when the shooting started. “It was very sad and touching.”
Torres spoke to reporters after the early morning memorial, which was closed to the public and the media.
“This morning was very emotional. To the beautiful 49 we will never forget and continue to keep your pulse,” he stated on Pulse’s official Twitter account on Monday.
Two more services in Orlando are planned for the Pulse victims later in the day.
The gates around Pulse would open in the evening, again, this time for public memorial. Another evening service is also planned at the Orange County Regional History Center.
After service, the History Center was opening a digital photo gallery showing Orlando’s response to the mass shooting. Tens of thousands of Central Florida residents attended a memorial service for the Pulse victims in the days following the massacre and rainbow flags were hung across the metro area in support of the gay community.
The city of Orlando has launched a program that allows companies to position themselves as safe places for gays and lesbians if they feel threatened. Orlando Police officers have begun distributing badges to local businesses to post them in their windows to identify them as places that LGBTQ community members can go if they feel they are in danger.