Florida

The Pulse shooting, two years later: Survivors and families can't forget

Two years ago, a lone shooter who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State gunned down 49 people at Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQ hot spot in Orlando.

And 730 days later, the memory of the massacre remains fresh in the minds of many, so much so that Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared June 12 Pulse Remembrance Day, commemorated by a moment of silence at 9 a.m. and the raising of flags at half staff from sunrise to sunset.

In Miami, portraits of the victims are being displayed from noon to 8 p.m. at Pridelines, 6360 NE Fourth Ct. in Little Haiti, with a guided meditation session from 7 to 8 p.m., according to the event's Facebook page.

The first tribute in Orlando was held at 2:02 a.m.: the exact time when the first shots were fired. Vigils and other events to mourn and remember the victims of the shooting are being held throughout Orlando, including an Annual Remembrance Ceremony hosted by the onePULSE Foundation at the nightclub at 7 p.m.

Across the city, 49 bells rang at noon.

Student activists have organized "die-ins" elsewhere around the country to honor the victims of the Pulse shooting and the more than 700 mass shootings since then. In Florida, they will be staged outside Sen. Marco Rubio's Tampa office and at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump's Palm Beach resort.

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Activists and survivors of the shootings at Pulse and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland rallied at the steps of Orlando City Hall on Monday to call for new gun control laws and protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace.

"Two years ago, I was washing my hands in a bathroom sink when I heard an assault rifle fire 45 rounds in one minute," Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse shooting, told the Orlando Sentinel. "I'll never forget the smell of blood and smoke burning in the inside of my nose. It wasn't until after that I learned that 13 of those rounds killed my best friends. But the real crime here is that my story isn't unique anymore."

Some survivors and the families of the victims have filed lawsuits against the Orlando Police Department and Pulse's owners for not doing enough to prevent the shooting from happening.

The nightclub has not been reopened, but a permanent memorial is in the works and is expected to be opened by 2020.

Mourners gathered at Iglesia El Calvario for a bilingual vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Governor Rick Scott lead a moment of silence for the victims lost and injured on Sun., June 12, 2016.



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