ORLANDO, Fla. — A jury found the widow of the Pulse nightclub shooter not guilty of aiding and abetting her husband and obstructing justice Friday—and law enforcement officials, politicians and Pulse survivors are reacting.
Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf tweeted that true justice comes from a world where LGBT individuals "no longer have to fear bullets."
Survivor India Godman was at a loss for words and does not think justice was served.
"My family, my pulse family. We had to. This verdict. We're all numb by it. We're all shocked. Like no justice," said.
But Patience Carter, an outspoken survivor of the attack, said she was prepared for a not guilty verdict.
"Even if we feel strongly that she had something to do with it, for our own sanity, it’s better for us to forgive and let go and to move on," she said. "Because if not, we’re going to stay stuck in that place of hurt, stuck in that place of pain, while she goes on and lives her life."
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he is grateful for the jury's hard work and deliberation in rendering the verdict.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he is disappointed in the verdict.
Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse nightclub, was silent as she left the federal courthouse following the verdict. She later released the following statement:
I respect the criminal justice process, and we all have to trust that the jury made its decision free of bias and emotion. Those of us directly affected by this tragedy must find peace in our hearts and remember that he was the one who pulled the trigger that night. He was the perpetrator, and he should not have one more minute of power over our lives.
This verdict cannot and will not divide us. The survivors, families, and first responders as well as the community of Orlando and everyone around the world must now focus on the work ahead of us. We will always carry the pain of what happened at Pulse, and we will never forget those who were taken. We will wrap our arms around all affected today and in the days to come.
It will be difficult, but we will focus now on healing, and we will continue to work to help communities emerge from violence and hate. It is as important today as it was 21 months ago.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he hopes the conclusion of the trial will allow the community to move on from the tragedy.
Members of the community gathered outside of the Pulse nightclub shortly after the verdict, holding signs that said, "We will not let hate win."
The FBI did not respond to comment request for comment, referring all questions to statements from the U.S. attorney's office.
The Orlando United Assistance Center and the Heart of Florida United Way said that today is an emotionally charged day in Central Florida.
"The Orlando United Assistance Center was created as a place of support and healing following the Pulse tragedy. OUAC and United Way stand with those hurting today as your support system. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, simply dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898-211 to be connected with a crisis specialist or call 407-500-HOPE to connect with advocates at OUAC. We remain committed to the emotional healing of our community," officials said in a statement.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said he wishes to honor the victims of the shooting and their families.
“The Governor appreciates the service of the jury in this trial. He respects our criminal justice system and will continue to find ways to honor the victims of this terror attack and their families," said John Tupps, communications director.
Cox Media Group