Updated: Jun 13, 2021
June 12th, 2016, was a devastating day for the LGBTQ+ community after a tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Omar Mateen killed 49 people, and injured 53 more, at the Orlando club. The Pulse nightclub attack remains the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
What happened on this tragic night?
Pulse was one of the most popular gay clubs in the city, and that Saturday night also happened to be Latin night.
Early in the morning, the police received reports of shots fired at the club. An off-duty officer attempted to restrain Mateen, but he was unsuccessful and the shooter was able to make his way into the club. Minutes later, police arrived at the scene and exchanged gunfire with the shooter.
An alarming post was made on Pulse's Facebook page, stating for “everyone [to] get out of Pulse and keep running.” Unfortunately, this chilling post was not the reality for many of the patrons in the club who became caught in the middle of gunshots. Hours later people were still being held hostage in the club.
SWAT teams began breaking down the back wall of the club to help victims escape. They did this through a controlled explosion in order to safely but quickly provide a route to safety for those inside. Eventually, many patrons, including the shooter himself, emerged from the building.
Upon Manteen’s exit, a shootout occurred between him and the police, ultimately resulting in his death.
This direct attack on LGBTQ+ and Latinx people continues to cause grief to this day and serves as a constant reminder of the hate and discrimination still faced by the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ mental health is at a heightened risk following Governor DeSantis’ decision to veto funding and cut approximately “$900,000 in funding for state programs geared toward serving the LGBTQ+ population, including one that provides mental health programs to survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting from 2016” (Kelley, 2021) according to recent news outlets. This decision, on the 2nd day of Pride and just before the 5th anniversary of the Pulse shooting, is a tell-tale sign of the work that needs to continue to be done to support LGBTQ+ communities.
Kelley, A. (2021, June 3). Florida Gov DeSantis vetoes mental health funding for Pulse shooting survivors. TheHill. https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/556703-florida-gov-desantis-vetoes-mental-health
Zambelich, A., & Hurt, A. (2016, June 26). 3 Hours In Orlando: Piecing Together An Attack And Its Aftermath. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2016/06/16/482322488/orlando-shooting-what-happened-update