Visitors pay respects at Pulse Memorial on eve of tragedy’s 6-year anniversary

More events to honor the victims will be held on Sunday

ORLANDO, Fla. – There was a light and steady crowd at the Pulse Memorial site on Saturday.

News4JAX sister station WKMG in Orlando was at the site, speaking with those who came to pay their respects and reflect.

It was an emotional time for many, with Sunday marking six years since the tragedy where a gunman opened fire inside the popular nightclub, killing 49 and injuring more than 50.

RELATED: Families, survivors to gather at the Six-Year Pulse Remembrance Ceremony

“I just felt like an overwhelming sadness, there is a lot of love here and you can like see it and feel it,” said Courtney Warren from Tampa.

Justin Perez also came from Tampa.

“Almost like an anger that six years and still nothing has changed,” Perez said. “Just senseless.”

Warren and Perez made the drive from Tampa to share their support.

“Just to let them know they are not alone,” Perez said. “You know, I don’t know how long it took for my brother to come out and just make sure to know they are loved, and it’s not just their community that hurts. It’s everyone.”

That hurt was seen on the faces of everyone who visited the site on Saturday.

The faces of the souls who were lost are now displayed so they won’t be forgotten.

RELATED: ‘We are not alone:’ New exhibits showcase love, support for Pulse survivors, victims

Warren said with everything that is happening in the world, now is the time to spread love, not hate.

“I think that people are very judgy,” she said. “I think that the world breeds that judgy behavior for people to breed hate, and I think that people just need to love one another.”

Remembrance ceremony

On Sunday, the city, as well as the LGBTQ+ community, will host events on the anniversary date, from the ringing of bells at First United Methodist Church in Orlando to a ceremony at the memorial to honor the 49 victims.

The remembrance ceremony, hosted by the onePulse Foundation, will be at the Pulse Interim Memorial from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will include the reading of the 49 victims’ names by family members.

Two survivors of the shooting, Patience Murray and Amanda Grau, will speak on Sunday along with City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Created by Pulse’s owner, the onePulse Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports a memorial, a museum, educational programs and legacy scholarships. It was established to create a sanctuary of hope after the shooting.

Flags lowered

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced that U.S. and Florida state flags will be flown at half-staff Sunday in memory of the Pulse victims.

“The proclamation will extend to all local and state buildings, installations and grounds through the state “from sunrise to sunset,” DeSantis said.

The proclamation also called for Florida residents to pause for a moment of silence at 9 a.m. Sunday.

“Six years ago, on June 12, 2016, a shooter claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant committed a horrific act of terrorism against the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando,” DeSantis said. “At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history... As a mark of respect for the victims, their families and the many affected by this tragedy, I signed the attached proclamation.”

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.