Pulse shooting raw footage disturbs survivors, Orlando community as first anniversary looms

Pulse shooting raw footage disturbs survivors, Orlando community as first anniversary looms
Artwork and signatures cover a fence around the Pulse nightclub.
Source: John Raoux/AP
Artwork and signatures cover a fence around the Pulse nightclub.
Source: John Raoux/AP

Survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting and Orlando community members are shocked after multiple news networks aired raw police body cam footage showing the tragedy unfold.

Angel Santiago Jr., a survivor of the shooting, was sitting with a friend at a local bar in Orlando when he saw the footage running on the 11 p.m. news. Santiago said that the footage he saw took place in the room where he hid in the club that night. He asked the bartender to change the channel.

"They just kept replaying it over and over again," Santiago said in a phone interview. "There's no good that comes from that. What's the purpose? It's not going to change what happened."

Angel Santiago speaks at a news conference days after the Pulse shooting.
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Santiago said he's most upset with local Orlando affiliates who chose to run the footage knowing that the community is still reeling from last June's tragedy. He said the decision shows a lack of regard for the survivors and deceased's families.

"I don't think that video should be out there," Santiago said. "I don't want to have to constantly relive this over and over again. And that's what they're doing, they're not letting us move on."

As media begin to roll out one-year anniversary content about Pulse, community members are concerned that some images may trigger negative feelings in survivors and families of those who died. According to Joél Junior Morales, community parntership developer at the Orlando United Assistance Center, many of his clients are already experiencing high anxiety as the one year anniversary looms.

"When something like this happens, and footage like this is released, it's not healing for those individuals to see that," Morales said.

Morales said that he's already heard from clients who could not sleep or who became upset and angry after seeing the footage.

This is not the first time survivors have had to confront triggering images in the media. In February, Univision aired a Spanish-language segment called "el baño del sangre," or "bloodbath," that recreated the events from the tragedy.

Pulse nightclub, scene of a mass shooting, in Orlando, Florida
Source: John Raoux/AP

At the time, the Orlando community was outraged and asked Univision not to air the footage. The request was ignored. At the time, Ricardo Negron, another Pulse survivor who works at the Hispanic Federation, said that another service organization saw a rise in requests for crisis management services.

"I don’t know if there will ever be a point where people say it's not too soon," Santiago said. "For those that are living through it, I don't think we'll ever be OK with the images that are out there."

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Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew Rodriguez is a Staff Writer at Mic. He is a queer Latino New Yorker who enjoys female rappers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Flannery O'Connor. He is a former editor at TheBody.com and he is working on a memoir.

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