Inside the History of Orlando's Pulse Nightclub
Co-owner Barbara Poma wanted to commemorate her brother
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2016 7:38 AM CDT
Aerial view on Sunday of the mass shooting scene at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.   (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
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(Newser) – The nightclub devastated by America's worst-ever mass shooting was inspired by love, USA Today reports. One of the owners of Pulse—the Orlando, Fla., club where gunman Omar Mateen killed at least 50 and wounded 53 on Sunday—opened the venue to commemorate her older brother and help people understand the LGBT community. Pulse's website explains how co-owner Barbara Poma grew up with her older brother, John, in a "strict" Italian family. "Being gay was frowned upon," the site says. "However, when John came out to his family and friends, the family dynamic transitioned from a culture of strict tradition to one of acceptance and love." John died from AIDS in 1991, People reports, and Poma opened Pulse with her friend Ron Legler in 2004.

"It was important to create an atmosphere that embraced the gay lifestyle with décor that would make John proud," the site adds. "Most importantly, (we) coined the name Pulse for John's heartbeat—as a club that is John's inspiration, where he is kept alive in the eyes of his friends and family." The club was having a Latin-themed night of dancing and music when Mateen opened fire around 2am, Mother Jones reports, sparking a killing spree that ended only when a police SWAT team shot him dead. "Like everyone in the country, I am devastated by the horrific events that have taken place today," says Poma in a statement. "I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you."