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Colorado LGBTQ club shooting evokes memories of the Pulse nightclub massacre


A weekend attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs, the second mass shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in six years. The gunman who opened fire Saturday night killed five people and wounded 25. In 2016, 49 were killed and more than 50 hurt at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Last night, a vigil in Orlando honored the victims in Colorado. Eddie Meltzer survived the Pulse massacre. He joins us now to talk about what the recovery may look like in Colorado Springs.

MARTÍNEZ: Eddie, thanks for joining us. When you first heard that five people were killed and at least 25 were injured at Club Q in Colorado Springs, what went through your mind and your heart?

EDDIE MELTZER: It was very sad. It obviously brought back memories. And I felt immediate pain for the relatives of these family members that have died.

MARTÍNEZ: Did it bring back memories of what happened in Florida?

MELTZER: It did. And actually, I found out because someone from - a family member from the Pulse nightclub called me and asked me how I was doing. And I asked why. And they explained to me what happened. And it was - I was more counseling her. It was her grief that eventually made me realize that this brought back, for a lot of people, many memories.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. In 2016 at Pulse, 49 people were killed, 53 wounded. I mean, you lost five friends. I mean, how did that tragedy change you?

MELTZER: It changed everything for me. I learned to see the world in a different way. I learned that we live in a realm where there's clearly darkness and light. And we get to choose what we want to be part of. And there's always going to be bad people. And there's always going to be good people. Our job is to always create as much love and as much light as we can for everybody.

MARTÍNEZ: How much of that made you angry?

MELTZER: I was never angry. I know that sounds weird. I just understand that - I just felt bad for this youth. In my belief, I believe that the problem with all the shootings in our country come from a place where - when this country learns to love their children more than they love their corporations and their money, that's when we will heal. I don't see sides. I don't see genders, races. I think that it is a big mental health problem. And it basically stems from lack of love and light.

MARTÍNEZ: Eddie, you became a source of support for your community after the massacre. What did families tell you about what they were feeling at that time?

MELTZER: They felt like they were in limbo. At the beginning, the first stage, it wasn't even grief or anger. It was complete limbo, they were - denial. They just couldn't accept that this happened - and disbelief, complete disbelief. And that was the first thing that I noticed is that a lot of them just kept thinking that their loved one was going to come back, you know, through the door. Or somebody was going to tell them that they found them even though they have already been told they died - complete disbelief. And then it took for a lot of these families a while to really accept that their loved one was no longer with us.

MARTÍNEZ: What would you like to say to the families in Colorado who are now experiencing some of those same things that people experienced in Florida?

MELTZER: I know this is harsh. And I know that from experience and from working with many families from the Pulse shooting that it will get better. It will get better. And what's important is that we understand that this is not a punishment. This is how we grow. This is how we change. And, you know, I like to believe that, sadly, these people that died are angels that come to teach us lessons. But it will get better. That's for sure. It will get better. And the best way this gets better is when they help each other, when the families start getting together. That's one thing I saw is that many of the families from the Pulse shooting became friends and, you know, nuclear families. And they helped each other. And from that came a lot of light that helped a lot of people heal.

MARTÍNEZ: Eddie Meltzer is a survivor of the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Eddie, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

MELTZER: Of course. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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