Those with connection to Pulse react to news that memorial will not be at site of nightclub

The onePULSE Foundation has been planning a national memorial, museum, and pathway at the Pulse nightclub shooting site for seven years. The dedications are meant to honor those who gave their lives, those who were injured, and the first responders who tried to save them.

But the onePULSE Foundation announced Tuesday, after all this time, it’s going to move the planned site of the memorial.  That came as a shock to many who pass it each day.

"It should stay where it is," Jennifer Gonzalez, who works nearby, told FOX 35 News. "I think it’s great that it’s here in the place that it is because everybody already knows the location. Should it be somewhere else? I don’t think so."

"It depends on where they move it, but I think since it’s already here, it’s already existing, why move it?" prompted Camila Velez, who lives near Pulse. "This is where it all happened, and this is where the unfortunate memory lives."

Christine Leinonen lost her son, Christopher, at Pulse. He was 32 years old. 

Pulse nightclub shooting victim Christopher Leinonen (left) with mother Christine Leinonen. [Credit: Christine Leinonen]

"He was fun and funny and witty. It’s like everything I was, or his dad was, he was better," she told FOX 35. 

She’s against the idea of any museum being built for the shooting. For her, it feels like making a tourist attraction out of her loss. 

"We don’t think a museum is ever going to be viable. Not from a moral standpoint, not from a financial standpoint," said Leinonen. "The site, that should be razed. And a memorial would be okay. A park would be wonderful."

Pallbearers escort the coffin of Christopher Leinonen into The Cathedral Church of St. Luke in downtown Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, June 18, 2016. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The onePULSE Foundation said it wasn’t able to reach an agreement with the owner of the building, Barbara Poma, about the donation of the property. Poma’s team declined to comment further on the issue. She had just stepped down as head of the foundation last month.


Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani said she hopes talks between the property owners and the onePULSE Foundation can start anew.

"This is all sacred land," Rep. Eskamani added. "This is so personal for people, especially those who lost loved ones and were there that night. Any other use of this property just does not make sense. It’s inappropriate."

A survivor of the shooting, Brandon Wolfe, told FOX 35 the same thing:

"This situation is unacceptable and a slap in the face to a community that has been through an immense amount of grief and pain over the last seven years."

The foundation promised an update on a new memorial site in a couple of weeks.