In the wake of the Orlando shooting early Sunday morning, many people remained uncertain about the wellbeing of their loved ones who attended Pulse nightclub on Saturday evening and early Sunday morning. With the overwhelming amount of deaths and serious injuries from the attack, worried friends and family were forced to wait hours before victims of the tragedy started to be identified.
Speaking to ABC News, Christine Leinonen described finding out about the shooting through a Facebook post one of her son’s friends had posted. Her son, Christopher Leinonen, was in Pulse with his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, and friends at the time of the shooting. She arrived at the hospital at 4 AM to await any updates about the status of her son.
“They said there’s a lot of dead bodies at the club and it’s a crime scene,” Leinonen said. “They can’t identify anybody, so it could be hours and hours before we find out.”
Leinonen told ABC that she had not spoken to her son since she called him on the phone the evening before. “I was just giving some information that he was going to need to know for my upcoming surgery, and that I left him with, ‘I love you, Chris.’”
As the interview came to a close, Leinonen paid a moving tribute to her son's short life, recalling how he'd won a humanitarian award for starting a gay straight alliance at his high school. She begged, “Please let’s all just get along. We’re all on this earth for such a short time. Let’s try to get rid of the hatred and the violence.”
It has since been revealed that Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, and his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, are among the fifty people who were killed at Pulse.
Mother of man who was at Orlando club: "There's a lot of dead bodies at the club...they can't identify anybody." https://t.co/KXKy7t4Bpr
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2016