It was five years ago Saturday that gunfire erupted at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Family and friends who lost loved ones are talking about the lingering pain. Christine Leinonen's son Christopher was among the 49 people who died--
"I'll go to my death with my grief over my son losing his life," Leinonen said. "As a mother, I was always anticipating his future."
Dr. Chadwick Smith had no idea he'd face the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history up to that time when he went to work at Orlando Health Regional Medical Center. Then Pulse victims began streaming into ORMC's trauma center.
"They started coming a patient or two or three at a time," Dr. Smith said. "Got about 35, 40 patients in about 35 or 40 minutes. On average a patient a minute."
It was Dr. Smith's job as trauma department coordinator to decide the order of the surgeries based on the severity of the wounds. Dr. Smith says he was in a 'funk' for a few months afterward and received counseling to help deal with the emotions he was feeling.
A number of blood drives are going across Central Florida in honor of the Pulse victims. Give if you're able.
"How many pints of blood during the first 24 hours were used at the Orlando Health hospital," Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon asked. "400 pints of blood and they definitely saved lives."
Governor DeSantis has ordered all flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff Saturday as a "mark of respect for the victims, their families and the many affected by the tragedy."
Image courtesy Getty