Remembering the 49 lives violently stolen in the Pulse nightclub shooting, eight years on

Pulse nightclub shooting

It’s been eight years since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida that stole 49 lives and left 53 more people wounded, in one of the darkest days in American history.

Around 320 people were inside Pulse nightclub, a popular LGBTQ+ venue, in the early hours of 12 June, 2016, when a 29-year-old man entered the building with two guns. The venue was hosting a “Latin Night” at the time and most of those present were Latinx.

As the man opened fire, those inside the Pulse nightclub called and texted friends and loved ones appealing for help. And then, at 2.09am, a chilling message was posted to the venue’s Facebook page: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

Shortly after 5am that morning, the gunman was shot dead.

Eight years on, the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub shooting remains the single deadliest attack on the LGBTQ+ community in the history of the United States.

The events of that night sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community all across the world as news spread that 49 people between the ages of 18 and 50 had been shot dead.

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In the years that have elapsed, families, friends and loved ones of those who died have worked hard to make sure that those who had their lives cruelly cut short will never be forgotten.

Each year in June, vigils are held in Florida to remember those who were lost. This year’s anniversary comes after a rash of mass shootings across America, and amid renewed calls for gun reform.

Survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre have called for gun law reform

Following a number of mass shootings, including one at a school in Uvalde, Texas in May 2022 that left 19 children and two adults dead, calls for gun reform have become even louder across the US.

Survivors of the shooting have for years used their voices to demand change, and many are growing weary.

“I’ll believe it when I see it because we have been screaming for this for mega years,” Orlando Torres told MyNews13 following the shooting ni Uvalde. “It’s a shame. Look what it had to take the latest shootings. Innocent little children that were 9, 10 years old.”

Fellow survivor Patience Murray shared her frustrations with The Guardian, saying: “We’ve had so many survivors, so many families that have been left behind and they tell their story. And they’re vulnerable, pouring their hearts out to these leaders, and then nothing happens.”

Leonel Melendez, 43, opened up about the long-lasting effects of that traumatic night in an interview with the New York Post in 2021, as the world marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting.

“I can’t hear on my left side and I use a hearing aid… I lost some of my vision,” Melendez said.

“I was pretty much a miracle – but my recovery has been long and hard.”

He added: “[Lawmakers] should make it so that not just anybody can own a gun. Gun control needs to be more strict.

“You should have to pass a background test and take a psychological test before you can own a gun. There has to be a better way, it should be more controlled. If there was more restriction on owning a gun this would have never happened.”

Who were the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting?

On the eight anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, we are sharing the names of those who lost their lives to ensure that they are never forgotten.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D Brown, 30
Darryl R Burt II, 29
Jonathan A Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D Conde, 39
Cory J Connell, 21
Tevin E Crosby, 25
Franky J Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D Drayton, 32
Mercedes M Flores, 26
Peter O Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R Guerrero, 22
Paul T Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B Josaphat, 19
Eddie J Justice, 30
Anthony L Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A Leinonen, 32
Brenda L Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L Rios Jr, 25
Juan P Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr, 34
Shane E Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S Vielma, 22
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A Wright, 31

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