The owner of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has spoken out for the first time to say the club will reopen.
Barbara Poma, who opened the club in honor of her gay brother who died from AIDS, has said her mission is not over and she will fight to keep the memories of the victims alive.
On Sunday (12 June), 49 people were killed and 53 people were injured at the hands of shooter Omar Mateen.
Poma said the club was supposed to be a ‘safe place to be who you are’ until the gay massacre.
‘It was the most surreal phone call I’ve ever received,’ she told NBC News. ‘When my manager called me, he just kept yelling into the phone: “We have a shooter. We have a shooter.”
‘Finally it sunk in, and you can’t wrap your head around that.’
Poma said, in tears, that she ‘can’t stop imagining what it was like’ for the victims of the shooting.
The Pulse nightclub owner opened the club 13 years ago in tribute to her brother, and said it was important from day one that the club felt like a family.
‘We just weren’t a place to work. We work together towards a certain goal, a mission, and we do that together. And now we mourn together,’ she said.
On what’s next, Poma said she is going to welcome all of the families of the victims to the club.
‘We just welcome those families into our family, and we just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and the spirit alive,’ she said.
‘We’re not going to allow anyone to take that away from us.’