Things That Matter

They Shared Their Heartbreaking Stories In This Emotional Pulse Shooting Photo Diary


The “Dear World” project has captured the stories of those closest to the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting.

On June 12, 2016, the Pulse nightclub shooting resulted in 49 lives being tragically cut short. Over the last year, photographer Daymon Gardner, working with the the “Dear World” project, has worked to ensure that the voices of the victims will never be silenced. In their beautiful photo essay, survivors — including EMTs, doctors, police, friends and family members — shared the powerful stories of how that night forever changed their lives.

Orlando Torres, a survivor, shared the last time he saw his friend Anthony alive.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Gardner for Dear World

“‘Hey, how you doing, Anthony?’ We hugged, I gave him a kiss. Hope you enjoy your night and have a good night. I went to the bathroom. Within minutes, I started hearing all those gunshots. I said hello, but I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. That’s what gets me.”

As the shooting started, many people, like Angel Santiago, tried to find safety inside the club.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Garnder for Dear World

“We were waiting for it to pass but it didn’t pass. It kept going and going and kept getting closer and closer and suddenly I realized there’s nowhere for me to go. I’m trapped. There’s no way I can get out. I was shot through the knee and through the foot so I couldn’t walk. I pushed my body underneath the stall, down the hallway and had to drag myself to the door. I thought I was gonna die.”

Rodney Sumter was serving drinks as bartender at Pulse when the shooting began.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Garnder for Dear World

“I remember getting hit in the arm. It felt like, you know how in middle school you fall asleep in class and you hit your elbow and you hit your funny bone? It felt like somebody shot my funny bone. It damn near blew my arm completely off. We knew that the police were outside but there wasn’t anybody to come save us at that point.”

Alison Clarke, from the Orlando Police Department, described how the night unfolded.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Gardner for Dear World

“I stopped at the intersection just north of the club. As we were running down the middle of Orange Avenue, a flood of survivors came running. They were panicked, crying. Teams started bringing victims from across the street. We just kicked in, setting up triage, started loading people up in any vehicle that we could find.”

Like many family members, Mina Justice, mother of Eddie Justice, shared the heartbreaking story of the last time she talked to her son.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Garnder for Dear World

“2:06 a.m., I got a text. ‘I love you Mom.’ And I was like, ‘What is this boy doing?’ Then, the phone rang. It was him. ‘Call the police.’ So I’m on my work phone calling the dispatcher. ‘Mom, tell them to hurry up, I’m in the bathroom. He’s coming.’ I feel stupid, I really do, because I said, ‘Get off the phone so he won’t hear you. Text me.’ So he got off the phone.”

Others never got the chance to hear their child’s voice one last time.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Gardner for Dear World

For several hours, Dimarie Rodriguez, mother of Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, had no idea if her son was dead or alive.

“I call my son’s roommate, ‘Go to his room and look at his bed.’ The bed was the same as it was when I saw it at 2:00 am., 3:00 am. I got scared. This is serious. I call a girlfriend, ‘Look at the media, police, the hospitals, the jails, please look for him. I don’t know where he is.’ And when she calls me back she says, ‘Listen, leave there. (sniffles) Come look for your son.'”

Jaimee Hahan was working at the hospital when the first victims started arriving.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Gardner for Dear World

“Someone said, ‘We’re getting some shootings.’ Okay. We do that all the time, I’m thinking. ‘There’s 20.’ I said, ’20? You mean somebody was shot 20 times?’ They said, ‘No. 20 patients.’ I was still just trying to process that. About five seconds later that the first one came in the door and the next one came in the door and they just never stopped. Just didn’t stop and it was devastating injuries.”

For police officer Omar Delgado, who helped secure the nightclub, the memories of the aftermath haunt him.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Garnder for Dear World

Officer Delgado explained that as he helped secure the nightclub, the sounds of cellphones ringing kept “catching him off guard.” Those calling were friends and family trying to reach the victims, who were laying on the ground, in pools of blood.

“Now phones just start ringing all over the place. The one that gets me is the one iPhone that was kind of next to my feet that just kept going and going and going. I’m looking at the wall, I’m looking at the opening and I looked down, I looked back up, looked down, looked back up. I knew what it was. It was a phone but it just kept catching me off guard. I would see the caller ID, the picture. I was like, ‘I know this person’s never going to be able to pick up this phone again.'”

Recovery, as survivor Marissa Delgado explains, isn’t defined by a length of time or an anniversary.

CREDIT: Dear World : Orlando Pulse Series. Daymon Garnder for Dear World

“How does it feel a year later or how is your recovery?” What recovery? You think I’m supposed to recover because it’s been a year? No booboo it just doesn’t happen like that. One of the common questions that I really do hate, Oh, how is your healing process? What? It takes longer than that.

This is only a small sample of the stories and portraits from the Pulse nightclub series. Please check out “Dear World’s” entire collection here.

(MORE: #DearOrlando)

READ: The World Is Uniting With Orlando After Horrific Mass Shooting At Popular Gay Club

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Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G


Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

Courtesy of Nohemy

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

When Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt Latin celebrity basketball game takes Las Vegas on April 24, there’s going to be an unfamiliar female face playing alongside Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, A.Chal and other urbano heavyweights. Let us introduce you: Nohemy, the emerging singer-rapper out of Orlando, Fla.

The moment is huge for the Puerto Rican artist, who just dropped her first Spanish-language single, “Repetir,” an energetic boastful bop, last month. But, clearly, the rising act has reason to be confident, though that doesn’t mean she’s not humble.

“Things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process,” the 25-year-old talent told FIERCE.

Nohemy, who is on Team El Combo, with el Conejo Malo, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro and more, won’t be the only girl on the court. Becky G is over on Team La Familia, where she’ll be balling with acts like Anuel, Luny Tunes, C. Tangana and Justin Quiles, among others. But Nohemy doesn’t have her sights on the young Mexican-American singer. Instead, the triple threat, who played college basketball on a scholarship, is coming for Anuel — which is a glimpse at the up-and-coming Latina artist’s drive overall.

We chatted with Nohemy about the forthcoming game, where she sees her poppier sound in urbano’s global takeover, shining in Orlando’s music scene and what to expect next from the rising act.

FIERCE: It’s hard to place your music and sound in a genre box. How would you describe your style?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My style of music would be uptempo, commercial and very happy. I don’t promote drugs or stuff like that. I try to be a positive energy, a good energy.

FIERCE: You were born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Orlando when you were 16 years old. What sort of music did you grow up on and how do you think this influenced your sound today?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Usher, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson and hip-hop. I didn’t even really understand the lyrics, but I liked the feeling of the uptempo music. I was also always involved in sports, and we always had a lot of playlists with this type of music, too. I think all of this reflects my style today because I go off of energy and the feeling it gives me. I’m very hyper. I can’t stay still. So I really identify with this high-energy music and I think I showcase this through my performances onstage.  

FIERCE: Oh definitely! I’ve seen some of your performances online, and you are very energetic. Not only are you singing and rapping, but you’re also dancing. When did you realize your musical talents and knew this was something that you wanted to do?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I knew since I was little. I started singing at church, and I always had this feeling in me, this fire, that wanted to explode. In my room, I was always singing Usher and Chris Brown in front of the mirror. I always projected myself somewhere else. It was like a feeling of escaping from the real world.

FIERCE: At what point does this become the real world, something you go after professionally?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Once I actually took the initiative to make my own music and get onstage, that was it. I always had a vision of what it would feel like, but once I experienced it, I needed more of it. I felt like I had to keep going. It’s addicting.

FIERCE: Orlando’s music scene used to be huge in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, during the bubblegum pop era, but it has since faded out. That’s not to say there aren’t big and rising names in the game from the O’ — Luis Fonsi, Coast City, Spiff TV, Nitty Scott and more, for instance — but many have left the city. What are some of the difficulties but also advantages of doing music in Orlando right now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think it’s growing. It’s a great time right now. The Latino community is huge and growing in Orlando, and people are starting to catch up with what’s going on. As more Spanish-speaking people come in, the Latin market is growing worldwide. People here see that and I feel like there’s more support in the city now than ever, especially after Hurricane Maria, with more people coming over. People are understanding the culture and the importance of supporting one another. There are some difficulties, especially because Orlando is such a tourist area, so the music scene kind of gets lost in that. It’s not something people see; it’s hidden. It hasn’t gotten the boom and exploded out, so you have to network a lot, go to little events, get to know people inside the community and business. But there are people doing it. It’s just a different vibe, more quiet.

FIERCE: One of the benefits I see is you get to be a big fish in a small pond and are more likely to get on someone’s radar. Case in point: You were selected to participate in Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt basketball game in Vegas this month, where you’ll be on team El Combo with Bad Bunny, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro, A.Chal and more. How did that come about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My manager Stephanie was in contact with Lex Borrero, who is the executive vice president of Roc Nation and the head of Roc Nation Latin. He asked her if I played basketball, and I do, I actually went to college on a basketball scholarship, so she told him that and they asked me to come on. I think it’s so cool because I get to make music and showcase this passion, sports, which I’ve done for so many years of my life.

FIERCE: Team La Familia has Becky G, but you’ll be the only woman on Team El Combo, and so early on in your career. What does this feel like for you?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Honestly, it’s surreal. When she told me, I got emotional. I come from a place where this is something we see on TV and never picture yourself there, especially so fast. I just put out my first single last month, and things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process.

FIERCE: I’m sure! As you said, you actually play ball and have real court skills. Who are you going to be coming for during the game on April 24?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I’m coming for Anuel. I’m coming for him. I heard he has some ball skills, and a lot of people who saw I would be in the game have reached out to me and said I have to cross him up. It’s a fun, competitive game, and I have to do it now for the people, haha.

FIERCE: Haha, I can’t wait to watch that! I want to get to your music. You recently released “Repetir,” a fun, somewhat boastful song for the haters who didn’t believe in you. Why did you want to make this record. Does it describe sort of where you’re at right now in life?

Nohemy: Yeah, it definitely describes where I’m at in life. I took nine months off. In that time, I was finding myself as an artist. Before this, I wasn’t an artist who would say these things in songs; I didn’t have the confidence for that. But after putting that time in, that development, finding me, who Nohemy is, I found that confidence to say the things I said in that record. This is who I am, and I will continue to be me.

FIERCE: Love that! What else are you working on right now that you can tell us about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Right now, I’m working on my next single. I’m working on some visuals that I want to put together with it. That should be out by early June. Really, I’m just focused on making more music, having stuff to follow up with, and booking more shows.

FIERCE: Latin pop and urbano are having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think what I bring to the game is a different type of sexy, one that doesn’t necessarily  include too much skin but is a projection of the art, of my music, my style and my personality.

FIERCE: You are 25 years old, at the start of your career. What do you want the people to say about Nohemy in 10 to 15 years from now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: That I always remained myself, true to myself: Nohemy, the humble, funny and really caring person. This isn’t just about the music, but what I represent, my morals. I’m not buying into things for the money. This is for the culture; this is who I am.

Read: Up Next: Meet Angelica Vila, The New York Dominicana Behind The Ladies’ Jam Of The Spring

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News Of This Woman Killing Her 11-Year-Old Daughter Because She Suspected Her of ‘Having Sex’ Is Proof Of The Perils Of Purity Culture

Things That Matter

News Of This Woman Killing Her 11-Year-Old Daughter Because She Suspected Her of ‘Having Sex’ Is Proof Of The Perils Of Purity Culture

In a tragic and shocking incident of domestic abuse, a woman in Florida stabbed her 11-year-old daughter to death on Sunday because she suspected she was having sex. The woman, Rosa Rivera, 28, inflicted roughly 15 stab wounds on her daughter, Aleyda Rivera’s, body because, according to Rivera, her daughter was smiling “different”, which prompted her mother to believe she had become sexually active. Rivera then drove her daughter to Winnie Palmer Hospital to be treated, but according to authorities, her daughter had already died from her injuries.

The case has captured the attention of the local media in Orange County, with the community reeling from such a shocking act of violence against a child.

According to an eye witness, before the homicide occurred, the girl denied to her mother that she was having sex. Her mother proceeded to remove the girl from the public area, placed her in her car, and stabbed her repeatedly in her back. At the moment, police believe that the girl was neither sexually active nor sexually abused.

This case is one of the nearly 700,000 incidents of child abuse that occur in the US annually.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina has asked anyone who knows of domestic abuse situations to report them to the authorities.

Latinas on Twitter have been grieving the loss of this young Latina who would’ve turned 12-years-old this Thursday.

So sad for this young beautiful girl that passed may god protect you in heaven 💕— мєℓι ʝ (@MeliJudd) March 11, 2019

Child abuse and domestic violence are issues that are rarely talked about but effect thousands of people every year. When cases like these make headlines, it’s always jarring.

This woman simply said what everyone else was feeling.

This breaks my heart😭— Ilona Perry (@IlonaAnn) March 12, 2019

Tweets like this are representative of the larger Orange County community in Florida who are grappling with the death of this young girl.

This Latina claims she was there when the tragedy happened:

I was driving right behind her pulling into the valet. I saw her attack the nurse with a knife trying to talk to her. I saw her get out the car. I saw hospital staff run to the car and just stare in shock with mouths open wide. This woman was not right…. 😞— Betsaida (@betsycorrea258) March 11, 2019

Some Twitter users are demanding to know whether the woman was on drugs or mentally ill.

Other Twitter users have expressed rage at the fact that something like this could happen.

Pls what’s his happening to this world we live in?How can you stabb your own daughter 11 times! That’s is very baberic.She should face the consequences of the law.— charisshine (@kid28_cool) March 12, 2019

It is unlikely that Rosa Rivera was in her right mind when she committed an atrocity like this.

If you or someone you know are victims of domestic violence and/or child abuse, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence helpline at 1−800−799−7233 or call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.

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