How new PULSE Memorial consultant plans to heal community, build memorial

ORLANDO, Fla. — The City of Orlando has hired a third party to collect input from PULSE shooting survivors and victims’ families on what they envision for the PULSE Memorial.


This comes after the city bought the PULSE Nightclub property last October and took over the memorial project in December. The city said it would lead the project weeks after onePULSE Foundation announced it would dissolve.

Mayor Buddy Dyer said the only decisions the city has made at this point regarding the project is that the memorial will be on the former PULSE Nightclub site and that the city will not build a museum as onePULSE Foundation originally planned.

Everything else, Dyer said, is up to the survivors and victims’ families.

Read: City of Orlando hires third party to lead Pulse Memorial project

“It should be and will be what the families and survivors want it to be,” Dyer said.

The city said the new third-party facilitator, Dr. Larry Schooler, has had experience coordinating other memorial projects, including in Virginia Beach where a gunman open fire in a municipal building, killing 12 in 2019.

Dyer said the decision to bring in a third-party for this process was in part to build trust among victims’ families and survivors— some of whom are skeptical toward the city and the former onePULSE Foundation.

Schooler said building trust with the families and survivors starts now.

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“I’ve come to believe the only way for me to earn their trust is through deeds and actions and so I intended to do what I say I’m going to do both in terms of talking with them, reflecting back accurately what they told us, and then acting upon it in a way that they can see they’ve been heard and seen,” Schooler said.

Schooler said over the next couple months, he and his team will hear from survivors and families through interviews, small focus groups, and discussions over the phone, Zoom and in-person.

Both Schooler and Dyer said a priority is to have Spanish translators involved.

Most of the survivors and families are Hispanic.

“I want to be part of everything,” said Jorshua Hernandez, a PULSE shooting survivor.

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Hernandez told Channel 9, Monday was the first time anyone in charge of the planning has asked for his opinion on what the memorial should look like and include. The city said it asked all survivors and victims’ families if they want to give input on the project.

Hernandez said before, he felt as though Spanish-speaking survivors have often been left out of those conversations.

“Because we are the true story. Nobody, nobody else matters. Only the families and the true survivors. Nobody else. We are the real voice,” Hernandez said.

The city plans to have conceptual designs of the memorial by the end of this year.

Mayor Buddy Dyer said Tuesday, he wants to cut the ribbon on the memorial by the end of his term in 2028.

This is a different goal than he stated last year, which was that he wanted this built by June 2026, the 10th anniversary of the Pulse tragedy.

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