6 months later, 49 killed at Pulse are remembered in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Relatives, friends and survivors of the Orlando nightclub massacre early Monday stood outside Pulse where candles were lit behind stars with the names of each of the 49 patrons who were killed on the six-month anniversary of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
They hugged each other outside the shuttered gay club, and at 2:02 a.m., the exact time gunman Omar Mateen started shooting inside the club, a moment of silence was held. They then read the names of each of the deceased patrons.
Many wore black and others wore rainbow-colored "Orlando United" T-shirts and ball caps.
Dozens of other patrons were seriously injured during the June 12 massacre.
"Time really does fly," said Orlando Torres, who hid in a bathroom when the shooting started. "It was very somber and very touching."
The early-morning remembrance was closed to the public and media, and Torres spoke to reporters afterward.
Two other services were planned in Orlando for the Pulse victims later in the day.
The gates around Pulse were going to be open in the evening, again, this time for a public remembrance. Another service also was planned in the evening at the Orange County Regional History Center.
After the service, the history center was opening an exhibit of digital photos showing Orlando's response to the mass shooting. Tens of thousands of central Florida residents attended memorial services for the Pulse victims in the days after the massacre and rainbow flags were hung all over the metro area in support of the gay community.
Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members after a three-hour standoff. The FBI is still investigating the massacre.
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The Gayly - 12/12/2016 @ 11:44 a.m. CST.