For Orlando shooting survivor, ‘we don’t have a choice’ but to recover

In Orlando, families are preparing to bury the first victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub. William Brangham shares how survivors and other members of the community are processing the tragedy.

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    But, first: As families in Orlando were preparing to bury the first victims of the mass shooting, the president spoke today of grief beyond description. Many in the community are mourning for sons, daughters, family and friends who were just in their 20s and 30s.

    We spent much of this past day listening to what survivors and members of the community had to say.

    William Brangham has the story.


    The president and vice president's visit today comes as the people of Orlando are finding different ways of coping and trying to recover from this massacre.

  • DON PRICE, Greenwood Cemetery:

    I think it means a lot. It shows that the nation is watching. I think that's the idealism at that point, that he's taken time, the president has taken time to let everybody know that, hey, he feels for them and is watching it.


    But, for others, especially those who witnessed the attack firsthand inside the Pulse nightclub, ceremonies and visits can only do so much.

    Jeanette McCoy drove to the club Saturday night and was inside with her friends Julian Amador and Yvens Carrenard when the shooting began. Another friend shielded McCoy, taking a gunshot to the back and allowing her to escape. She says her grief has made it hard to sleep.

  • JEANETTE MCCOY, Survivor:

    We lost so many people. We lost a part of us. People don't realize. There's people who were dead, but the ones that survived, we can't hold a service for our heads.


    Carrenard can't shake the images of what he saw as he escaped the club.


    I could hear people moaning. And I could hear people screaming for help. When they came and got us, I had to physically walk by bodies. We had to walk by the dead bodies that were just where we were standing.


    McCoy told us today she believes the police waited too long to rush in, which she says allowed it to become a hostage situation.


    Through all of this that's going on, the gunshots didn't stop. They just didn't stop. I'm still yelling at the cops and telling them it made no sense. I said, it's one individual in there. How it is that there's hundreds of cops out there and no one is going in?


    But others believe officials did the best they could and now is the time to focus on the future.

    Don Price is helping the city of Orlando establish a permanent memorial here in Greenwood Cemetery. The city is offering free burial plots for any of the victims.


    A lot of these victims are not staying in Orlando. They're being sent home to Puerto Rico. They're going to Mexico. They're going to the Dominican Republic. They're going to New Jersey. They're going all around. Their friends and their family base is still here in Orlando. So we need a place that the community can come and grieve.


    DeAngelo Scott was dancing that night at Pulse, too, but he left just before the attacks began. Six of his friends died that night.

    He says the so-called Pulse family, the whole LGBT community, must come together to heal and to lead by example for the rest of the city.

  • DEANGELO SCOTT, Orlando Resident:

    We're going to get fine. We're going to get through this. And I was like, we don't really have a choice. I was like, because the Pulse family is what built the overall Pulse family, which is the family we have in the community.

    I was like, so we have to make sure that we fix ourselves, so that the rest of us, the rest of the city, you know, can look up to us for support.


    That's right. You don't have a choice.


    Yes. Otherwise, they win. We can't let them win.


    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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