How To Help The Orlando Shooting Victims: What You Can Do Right Now
Early Sunday morning, at least 20 people were killed and 40 wounded when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Police Chief John Mina told reporters a lone shooter with an assault rifle and a handgun started shooting in the Pulse club around 2 a.m. and was killed inside the club in a shootout with the police. The authorities classified it as a “terror incident” because of how organized the attack was and the fact that the shooter was not from the area (and because this is fucking terrorism, in case you were confused at all). If you’re wondering how to help the orlando shooting victims, there are a few ways you can assist right away. I mean, there’s not a lot we can do when shit like this happens, but there’s a horrifying number of victims, and aside from the obvious emotional consequences of terrorism, medical bills and funerals create a massive financial burden for victims and their families.
The exact number of victims is still unclear, because bodies are still being removed from the club, according to the police. The gunman reportedly started shooting inside Pulse, went outside when an officer at the nightclub tried to get involved, and then went back inside to take hostages. The police tried to rescue the hostages around 5 a.m., setting off a “controlled explosion” to get people out of the club.
Update: The Orlando mayor confirmed in a press conference Sunday morning that 50 people are dead and at least 53 injured in the Pulse nightclub attack.
The large-scale attack came just a day after 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie was fatally shot while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando. Her shooter was a 27-year-old man who later killed himself.
If you live in the central Florida area, donating blood is a personal way to help the victims heal, as many likely lost a lot of blood. Appointments to donate blood can be scheduled on the American Red Cross’ website. Many of Sunday’s victims were sent to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, which accepts donations on its website to help the staff continue offering life-saving treatment.
Even if you live across the country, there are organizations within Florida and Orlando that will help the mass shooting victims in the hours, days, and months following the tragedy. A GoFundMe page was set up to specifically help the victims and their families. Equality Florida, a state lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is working with local organizations to ensure the money is distribute fairly.
There are also LGBTQ organizations in the area that could use extra donations to assist those affected and support the LGBTQ community in general.The Center serves the LGBTQ community in Orlando, offering services like counseling, community groups, and a crisis hotline that victims could utilize. You can easily donate on its website. Additionally, the Orlando Youth Alliance helps people ages 13 to 24 grappling with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning issues. As a resource for many teens and young adults, the Orlando Youth Alliance will offer a safe space for victims and LGBTQ people now scared to go out to gay clubs. The Zebra Coalition is another organization aimed at supporting LGBTQ people in the Orlando area, offering mental health services and peer-based support.
More broadly, supporting campaigns to end gun violence can go a long way in helping raise public awareness and signifying that Americans are sick of grappling with tragic mass shootings. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wants to dramatically reduce the number of shootings in the U.S. by securing universal background checks, stopping “bad apple” gun dealers, and changing social norms surrounding guns.