Survivors of the Pulse shooting have sued owners of the Orlando gay club. The lawsuit comes almost two years after the June 12, 2016 massacre, in which a gunman opened fire in the club. Ultimately, 49 patrons died and more than 50 more were injured before the gunman died in a shootout with police.
The suit, filed Friday in Orange County, Fla., claims the club did not have enough security in place on the night of the shooting, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “They contracted out security to the Orlando Police Department,” attorney Keith Altman told the newspaper. “It just seems like they were trying to put the club beyond the reach for liabilities and I don’t know that that’s OK.”
Attorneys are representing 39 survivors and family members of victims, apparently pro bono, and suing Pulse owners Barbara and Rosario Poma.
The evening of the shooting, Pulse had hired off-duty police officer Adam Gruler to provide security at the club. Gruler was not at the door to the club when shooter Omar Mateen went in with a rifle because he was dealing with another disturbance at the time. Private security guard Neal Whittleton was also inside the club when the shooting began. On Thursday, another lawsuit was filed in federal court against Gruler, 30 unnamed law enforcement officers, and the city of Orlando contending police failed to protect the club and violated survivors’ civil rights by detaining them for an extending period of time and limiting contact with people outside the club.
Barbara Poma remains the owner of the Pulse property. The club closed permanently after the shooting. She’s now CEO and executive director of the onePULSE Foundation, which is planning a permanent memorial and museum at the site.
“It is our understanding a lawsuit has been filed against us personally and Pulse nightclub,” she told The Advocate. “We have not seen the lawsuit and have no information about it. What is important to Rosario and me is that we continue to focus on remembering the 49 angels that were taken, the affected survivors, and to continue to help our community heal. We ask that everyone keep the focus where it belongs as we prepare for this Remembrance Week.”