“There is a problem of gun violence. There is a hate problem, ”said Poma, founder and executive director of the OnePulse Foundation, a local nonprofit created after the shooting. “Why is this how we solve problems? Through violence and hateful acts. Why ? “
Four separate shooting incidents were reported across the country between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning, according to gun violence records. Gunfire left at least two dead and at least 34 others injured in Texas, Georgia and Illinois.
The White House released a statement from President Joe Biden on Saturday.
“Five years ago today in Orlando in the middle of Pride Month, our country suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQ + community in American history, and at the time, the mass shooting of the most deadly by a single shooter, ”Biden said.
“Within minutes, Pulse nightclub, which had long been a place of acceptance and joy, turned into a place of untold pain and loss. Forty-nine people were there to celebrate the Latin night were murdered, further injured, and countless more marked forever – the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young people, blacks, Asians and Latinos – our fellow Americans. “
Biden said he would sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial. “Pulse Nightclub is sacred ground,” said the president.
“So tired of hashtags, thoughts and prayers”
“It’s a ray of hope in a very, very painful day for me and for others,” Brandon Wolf, who survived the massacre, told CNN on Saturday, referring to the national memorial. “Forty-nine people lost their lives at Pulse. We have been put in the spotlight. Our pain was on every television screen in the world. And it’s really good at a time like this to be able to talk about having an ally in the White House. “
But the pain of the survivors and the families of the victims has not diminished over the years, he said.
“The people I lost, they’re still gone tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” Wolf said. “They’re still missing faces at my birthday party. There are still empty seats at my table. “
Elected officials must back up their words with action, Wolf said.
“I’m so tired of statements. I’m so tired of hashtags, thoughts and prayers… as people in our communities are dying, ”he said.
“Most Americans want to be able to go to a grocery store without being afraid of finding an AR-15 in aisle three. “
For now, however, words will have to do.
Many others paid tribute to the Pulse victims on Saturday as the scourge of gun violence sweeps across the country.
“Our community will always remember the 49 angels captured that day five years ago,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted. “We send our love to their families, friends and everyone who lost that special someone on June 12, 2016.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, tweeted: “Five years ago an ISIS-inspired terrorist killed 49 innocent people at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Florida honors the memory of those murdered on one of the darkest days in Florida history. ”
Orlando Magic of the NBA said in a tweet, “We join the LGBTQ + community in honoring these victims by spreading love, kindness and compassion throughout the Central Florida community. #OrlandoUnited. “
The Pulse shooter, who authorities said had pledged allegiance to ISIS, died in a shootout with police on the day of the massacre.
The club has not operated since the shooting and a memorial with a museum and education center is being built at the site.
“I really want my elected officials to show up to work, develop a backbone and do the things that need to be done to keep our communities safe,” Wolf said.
CNN’s Natasha Chen, Kevin Conlon, Melissa Alonso, Julia Griggs and Haley Burton contributed to this report.