Floridians gathered across the state Monday to remember the victims of the terrorist attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, on the one year anniversary of the massacre which left 49 people dead and dozens more injured.
The Pulse Nightclub attack was the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, declared an act of terrorism after shooter Omar Mateen, a resident of the Treasure Coast, was found to have personal links with Islamist terrorism on his home computer.
Around the state, flags were held at half-staff Monday to commemorate the victims. They were brothers, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and friends -- all of whom were remembered Monday in a series of vigils and memorials held around Orlando and across the Sunshine State.
Outside the nightclub, which the owners have turned into a memorial, victims, survivors’ families, local officials and club employees gathered for a memorial at 2 a.m., the same time Mateen opened fire on the crowded club.
Two more services were to be held Monday.
A giant rainbow flag flew high at the Orange County Administration Building, a symbol of the LGBTQ community -- a symbol of solidarity and resilience for Orlando and those affected by the attack.
The city honored the victims of the attack by holding a special “Orlando United Day,” a day of “love and kindness” to be celebrated throughout the City Beautiful.
Church bells rang 49 times, each a reminder of one of the victims.
“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.
At around 2 a.m. June 12, Mateen opened fire on a crowded gay nightclub which was celebrating “Latin Night.” Panic ensued as the gunman fired round after round. People scattered, some heading into the bathroom to hide until he was killed in a shootout with police.
The incident was later classified as a terrorist attack.
FBI agents arrested Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, in January. She is charged with obstruction and with aiding and abetting in federal court. She is currently awaiting trial and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
State and local officials said the attack was a reminder of the undeniable strength of the people of Orlando and of Floridians.
"We will always bear the scars of the Pulse tragedy and grieve for those whose lives were cut short," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. "While painful, those scars are reminders that hate and darkness could not defeat us."
“The horrific terror attack at Pulse attempted to rip at the seams of our society, strike fear in our hearts and divide us,” said Gov. Rick Scott, who declared Monday “Pulse Day” across the state.
“Yet, in the face of extreme adversity and loss, Floridians showed resiliency, bravery and love,” Scott continued. “Over the past year, our state, the city of Orlando and the many Floridians affected by this tragedy have shown incredible resolve as we continue to mourn the loved and lost.”
Florida held a moment of silence at 9 a.m. to honor the victims.
“This was an attack on Orlando, our state, the Hispanic community and on the LGBTQ community,” Scott said. “It left a solemn impact on our state that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.”