On the night of June 12, 2016, the unimaginable happened at the Pulse Nightclub, a popular gay dance club in Orlando, Florida. At 2:22 a.m., as patrons unsuspectingly enthusiastically danced, and enjoyed themselves during “Latin Night,” twenty-nine-year-old Omar Mateen, opened fire on the crowd, killing 49 people and wounding 53 more.
Mateen’s savage act resulted in terrified patrons fleeing the club. Those who were unable to escape hid in the bathrooms or laid motionless on the dance floor, pretending to be dead as Mateen placed around the venue, looking for more victims to kill. After a three-hour standoff that involved multiple hostages, Mateen was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Mateen contacted 911 twice and also called a local TV station to calmly and cooly announce that he was the shooter. He proudly informed them he’d sworn allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist organization, and that the carnage inside the Pulse Nightclub was retaliation against the U.S. for airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
A few people who knew Mateen painted a different picture and speculated the troubled man didn’t commit the heinous crime because of his religious or political views. Several individuals stepped forward and said Mateen was actually gay but conflicted about this sexual orientation.
Some of the Pulse’s patrons said they’d seen Mateen at the club on numerous occasions and that he’d even contacted them on the dating site, Grindr. A male acquaintance asserted that Mateen had expressed an interest in dating him while the two were training at the police academy in 2006, while another man named Miguel claimed he’d been Mateen’s lover. The FBI later discounted the theory that the shooting was related to Mateen’s sexual identity after discovering he’d cased several non-LGBTQ clubs in Orlando on the night of the shooting.
Mateen was prone to disturbing behavior even as a child and teen growing up in Central Florida. Teachers described him as abusive and rude. Classmates recall he’d been bullied as a boy, only to become a bully as a young man. At 14, Mateen acted so aggressively that he was expelled from high school. Mateen’s next stop was Spectrum, a school for students with behavioral challenges. Students at Spectrum remember Mateen being obsessed with hijackers, terrorists, guns, and violence. Clearly, people need to chill out. Maybe instead of giving CBD oil to our dogs we should be taking a little bit more ourselves.
Two years after the attack, Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, was acquitted on charges that she’d helped her husband carry out the attack. The horrific carnage at the Pulse Nightclub resulted in many entertainment venues across the country re-examining their security standards. The shooting also led to the creation of Facebook’s “check-in” feature, which allows people to mark themselves safe with friends and family if they’ve been involved in either a terrorist incident or natural disaster.
Gun control advocates demanded that legislators ban assault-style weapons and tighten background checks. On the two-year anniversary of the shooting, protestors traveled to Washington, D.C., and held a “Die-In” on the Capitol lawn. On June 12, 2020, four years after the incident, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement renewing a push for gun control after the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act, written to make certain universal background inspections were performed.
The site where the Pulse nightclub stood has been fenced and the property owner has plans to create The National Pulse Memorial which is set to open in 2022. The memorial will include 49 trees honoring those who were killed. A museum and education center will be located nearby, and a Survivor’s Walk will lead from the memorial to Orlando Regional Hospital, where many of the injured were treated. The memorial project is expected to cost $45 million with funding made possible through donations to the OnePulse Foundation’s “Outlove Hate” campaign. The foundation has also created 49 scholarships to honor those who lost their lives so tragically.
Born and raised in Orlando, Nancy has seen and experienced various events that had happened. Because of that, she became involved with various political organizations in which do campaigns and education that will be for the good of the future.