ORLANDO, Fla. — The owner of the Pulse nightclub said the site will become a memorial and a museum to honor the 49 people who were killed on June 12 in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Pulse owner Barbara Poma said Thursday outside the nightclub that the memorial and museum will serve to comfort the bereaved now and educate future generations about the importance of tolerance.
Poma offered few concrete details about what the memorial will look like, how much it will cost and what the timeline will be for building it.
"It's not my decision. It's not just my feeling. It will come from everyone's input," Poma said.
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Poma had agreed to sell the club to the city of Orlando, but changed her mind in December.
She said the design and content of the memorial will be decided by survivors of the massacre, family members of deceased victims, first responders and the doctors and nurses who treated the victims, as well as the greater Orlando community.
"I just think it's important for it to stay in the hands of the community," Poma said. "I think the community has the right to decide what happens here."
Poma established the onePULSE Foundation to raise funds to build the memorial. Its board of trustees includes celebrities and local business leaders.
An online community survey will seek input on the future of the site, Poma said.
"I don't think they should tear it down," said Chris Littlestar who was shot five times during the attack.
Littlestar has visited Pulse several times since the shooting and he said the mementos and a box covered in photos of his friends are priceless.
"It's a lot of love and work that they put into it," Littlestar said. "So I think they should probably leave a lot of stuff."
Mary Berhane, who used to visit the venue, said that Pulse was more than a nightclub.
"We all grew up together," she said. "We laughed. We've cried. We've shared our stories together over the years."
Berhane said those who would visit Pulse felt unified.
"We need that comfort," she said. "We need that sense of community."
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