Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse nightclub in Orlando sat down with NBC’s Today for the first time to speak about the mass shooting that happened at her club on Sunday.
Poma opened the club 13 years ago in honor of her gay brother who died of HIV-related illness. She said that Pulse was supposed to be a “safe place to be who you are.”
Matt Lauer asked her what it was like to receive the call on Sunday morning about the massacre at the venue. “It was the most surreal phone call I’ve ever received,” Poma told Lauer. “When my manager called me, he just kept yelling into the phone: ’We have a shooter. We have a shooter.’ Finally it sunk in, and you can’t wrap your head around that.”
Poma told Today that she lost one employee in the attack, Kimberly “KJ” Morris, the bouncer who had been working at the club for a month, but seemed to fit in with the family she had built there.
“We just weren’t a place to work. We work together towards a certain goal, a mission, and we do that together. And now we mourn together,” she said.
Poma also vows to reopen the club as as tribute to the victims. “We just welcome those families into our family, and we just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and the spirit alive,” she said. “We’re not going to let someone take this away from us.”
Watch her heartbreaking interview below:
Below, Logo correspondent Raymond Braun talks to Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, about what Pulse meant to Orlando’s LGBT community.
h/t: Gay Star News