Central Florida marks seven years since the deadly Pulse nightclub mass shooting

ORLANDO, Fla. — Monday will mark the seventh anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that tragically took the lives of 49 victims.


The deadly massacre on June 12, 2016, is still the single deadliest incidence of violence targeting the LGBTQ community in history.

For Orlando Torres, it will be a night he never forgets. Torres said even seven years later, he still counts himself lucky.

“Three or four times my life flashed before my eyes that night,” said Torres.

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Back in 2016, Torres said he was a Pulse nightclub promoter, helping create what was “Latin Night.”

“It was a place we would meet up with friends, chitchat, dance, and have great shows.” Torres said.

Now he’s a Pulse nightclub survivor.

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On the night of the shooting, he was among 300 people who were inside as bartenders did the last call.

The gunman pulled up in a rental van and began shooting, eventually backing into one of the bathrooms, where he began a hostage situation, Torres recalls.

Torres said he hid inside one of the stalls playing dead for about three hours. He said he was one of the lucky ones. Sadly, a lot of his friends that were in the other stalls in the nightclubs did not make out alive.

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It was a night many in Orlando will never forget.

A few hours before the anniversary brought Orlando residents like Elizabeth Morales, to the memorial site to pay respects and honor the 49 angels. Morales wasn’t at Pulse the night of the tragedy But she said it breaks her heart.

“It’s surreal. they’re real people that have families that care about them. They’re not just a statistic. you see that and see the gunshots in the walls,” Morales added.

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And as Orlando Torres reflects on the anniversary he said it’s sad to think that some could spread that much hate in the LGBTQ community. But he won’t stop him from living his life with joy either.

“Everybody has a number. three or four times my life flashed before my eyes that night but it wasn’t my number. If it’s your number it’s your number so keep enjoying life,” Torres said

A few different remembrances ceremonies will be happening Monday. The official one is held by the onePulse Foundation at Dr. Phillips Lawn from 7:00 pm-8:00 pm.

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Michelle Shore, WFTV.com

Michelle Shore joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2023 as a Content Creator.

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