Pulse Orlando -- 102 Grieving Families

by Geraldo Rivera | Jun 14, 2016

Whether it was primarily a hate crime or an act of terror or the result of Muslim immigration or radical Islam or stupidly lax gun laws or a self-loathing closeted cross dressing, wife-beating sociopath, the one fact that everyone can agree is that there are 102 families in various degrees of grieving in Orlando, Florida.

Forty-nine of those families are burying their dead from the Pulse Orlando massacre, 53 of those families are tending to their wounded while filled with rage and relief that, though wounded, some grievously, their loved ones survived the horrific attack Sunday morning.

It was Latin Night at the popular gay nightspot and the despicable Omar Mateen, the 29-year old self-radicalized Muslim loser who apparently couldn't tell the difference between a Sunni or a Shiite terror group, unleashed hell on a club crowded with innocent people having fun.

Standing astride the lone 36-inch wide entranceway to the packed dance hall, he fired magazine after magazine into the bodies of panicked victims as they tried desperately to escape. The first out were the first to die. Many others followed as the police forces gathered outside and waited and waited and waited for the right moment to begin their counterattack.

The savage Mateen made a butcher shop of the victims as their blood pooled on the club floor.

And because of the night's theme, most of the dead were young Latinos — more than half Puerto Rican.

On Monday night, just 44 hours after the worst mass shooting in American history and surely one of the worst calamities ever to strike the Puerto Rican diaspora, I watched as the loving family of one of the victims, Jimmy de Jesus Velasquez, gathered from Puerto Rico and the States to remember his vivacious life and arrange for his burial back on la Isla del Encanto.

Several of his sisters were flown in thanks to the generosity of JetBlue, a terrific company.

Fifty years old and one of the premier dancers of the well-regarded Jibaro Puerto Rico Dance troupe, Jimmy was enormously popular. His death struck his family and friends hard, sending them into a tailspin of grief and disbelief. Not Jimmy. Not this man filled with gusto, love and life. His mom sobbed. Everyone did. It was gut-wrenching.

None suffered Jimmy's loss with such terrible force as Carlos Muniz and Chris Ortis. They were with their dear friend that awful night and they watched his murder at the hands of the fiend who shattered our Spring optimism and scarred our national soul.

Tears flowed, the classic kind of deep raw, heaving tears of a bereft Latino family that I hope never to see again.

And nobody cared what sick crap motivated the wife-beating, self-hating, radically stupid monster Mateen; only that Jimmy was gone.

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