Orlando marks 1st anniversary of Pulse massacre
Orlando dedicated the day in memory of the 49 lives that were taken at Pulse.
— -- Family and friends of those who were killed in a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year gathered at the club to mark the first anniversary of the mass shooting.
Forty-nine people were killed, and more than 50 others were injured on June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire on the gay nightclub.
The city of Orlando, in collaboration with Pulse, declared today Orlando United Day: A Day of Love and Kindness.
"This day is dedicated to the memory and honor of the 49 innocent lives taken at Pulse, reaffirms the community's commitment to survivors and loved ones, as well as recognizes the global compassion and love displayed in the wake of the tragedy," city officials said in a statement.
Army Sgt. Marie Cobbs — who attended the early Monday ceremony, which was open only to survivors and family and friends of those who were killed — told reporters Monday morning that she was too angry to go inside the now shuttered nightclub.
A police officer "was going to let me in, but I just said no. I just couldn't ... I'm too angry," she said.
She said she was there in remembrance of her nephew Anthony, who was killed in the attack.
"Like, how could this happen?" Cobbs asked. "This guy came to my home right here," she said gesturing toward the nightclub, "and shot my brothers and sisters."
The ceremony, which overlapped with the moment that suspected gunman Omar Mateen began firing shots, at a little after 2 a.m., will kick off a full day of services held in honor of the victims and survivors.
It will be followed by three main events: a midday service held at the nightclub, an evening gathering called Orlando Love: Remembering Our Angels and a music-filled celebration held at Pulse.
Churches throughout the city agreed to ring their bells simultaneously 49 times at noon.
Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack and was killed in a shootout with police. His wife, Noor Salman, is facing charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction in federal court. She has pleaded not guilty.
One survivor, Ricardo Negron, told The Associated Press that he would not be attending the events because it would be too difficult to bear.
"There's going to be so many things going on that I feel it will be overwhelming for those affected," said Negron, who managed to escape from the attack the club without physical harm.