The onePULSE Foundation confirmed the arson attack, which took place in the early evening of October 12, and posted video to social media showing a person in a wheelchair setting three Angel banners and other items ablaze before leaving the scene.
“Fire investigators are working the case,” Jenny DeSantis, spokesperson for the Orlando Fire Department, was quoted by USA Today. “This is an open and active investigation.”
Nobody was hurt in the blaze, which was confined to a small section of the wall and mostly burned itself out before a passerby extinguished the remaining flames. The rest of the memorial remained unharmed in the attack.
The video appears to show the back of an unidentified person in a wheelchair as they try to set fire to banners and other loose items at one section of the flowing memorial wall. At one point, the person backs up quickly as the flames grow suddenly in size, and then he quickly wheels away. At no point is the face of the alleged arsonist visible in the video.
The Pulse nightclub in Orlando was the scene of a mass shooting by Omar Mateen in June of 2016. He killed 49 people at the popular gay establishment during a three-hour shooting before being killed himself. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the time (until the 2017 Las Vegas shooting), and the memorial was set up outside the nightclub in memory of the lost lives.
In February, the onePULSE Foundation (which is overseeing the development of the new Pulse memorial) teamed with superstar Ricky Martin to help raise funds for the memorial and museum.
“I’m excited to assist onePULSE Foundation with engagement and awareness-building opportunities as they build the National Pulse Memorial & Museum,” Martin said in a statement at the time. “The OUTLOVE HATE campaign is the perfect way to start our partnership.”
“We are thrilled to have one of the best-selling international music artists of all time join our Pulse family as a national spokesperson,” Earl Crittenden, onePULSE Foundation board chair, said in a statement announcing the move. “His global platform allows us to share our mission with even more audiences, ensuring Pulse’s legacy of love lives on forever.”
The project hopes to raise $49 million from one million participants donating $49 each to fund not just the proposed memorial and museum, but also education programs, community outreach, and legacy scholarships. Martin’s position as national spokesman is unpaid, and he will make a series of public service announcements, social media posts, and other contributions to the cause. Users visiting the OUTLOVE HATE website (www.outlovehate.com) can enter to become an actual part of the memorial. After making a donation, participants can upload a selfie to the site which will become a part of the project.
The Orlando Police Department is assisting in the investigation and authorities have asked that anyone with information about last month’s attack on the Pulse nightclub memorial contact police at (407) 246-2470.