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Orlando Shooting Victims’ Funerals Begin: ‘Tensions Are High Right Now’

Funerals for the 49 victims in the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting began this past week, and members of the community are going above and beyond to ensure that the victims’ families and loved ones are supported during this difficult time.

“Tensions are high right now,” Douglas Dobbs, owner of the Dobbs Funeral Home in Orlando, told USA Today, noting that he is helping to arrange two out-of-town services and one at his funeral home this coming Tuesday, June 21.

Kimberly KJ Morris Orlando shooting victim
Kimberly ‘KJ’ Morris

On Sunday, June 12, 49 clubgoers were shot and killed at popular gay nightclub Pulse, making the tragedy the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

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According to USA Today, in addition to donating blood to help the 53 individuals who were injured in the shootings, many community members are also offering their services to help with the influx of memorial services.

Morgan Elliss, the owner of Katherine’s Florist in Clermont, Florida, told the paper that she offered to donate flowers free of charge to families of the victims.

Churches have also opened their doors to offer safe havens for members of the LGBT community to mourn those lost in the senseless shooting.

“I read that a club, for gay people, has kind of been their safe place … their church, in a way,” a volunteer at Skyline Community Church in Oakland, California, told USA Today. “And their space was invaded. We’re just welcoming everybody to come.”

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On Thursday, June 16, Kimberly “KJ” Morris was honored at the first in a long string of funerals at the Osceola Memory Gardens Funeral Home.

Kimberly Morris funeral
Kimberly ‘KJ’ Morris, one of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting to be laid to rest, is carried to the grave site on June 16, 2016.

“This past week we’ve been watching so many videos of our loved Kim, and it just rings out in my mind as we are watching those videos, ‘Go Kim! Go Kim! Go Kim!’ and that was her personality: smiling, laughing, music, let’s dance,” her uncle Bryant Johnson told NBC News of the Pulse employee. “Kim loved to have fun and she was often the source of it.”

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo’s family held a viewing for their beloved family member that same day. The 20-year-old was one of the youngest victims of the attack.

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On Friday, longtime couple Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon and Jean Carlo Mendez-Perez were put to rest in matching coffins side by side.

The wake for Christopher ‘Dru’ Leinonen on June 17, 2016, in Orlando.

One day earlier, Barbara Pomo, the owner of Pulse, told Matt Lauer on the Today show that she planned to reopen the club in honor of the victims.

“We just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep their spirit alive, and we’re not going to let them take this away from us,” she said. “I will not let hate win. We will heal together.… It is to honor the true spirit of Orlando. Pulse will always continue to be the heartbeat of Orlando.”

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