• Denver community members gather for a candlelight vigil in support of the victims. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Friends are checking hospitals, and they say that police have told them there are still bodies in the nightclub.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian, Ben Winsor

13 Jun 2016 - 5:17 PM  UPDATED 14 Jun 2016 - 4:28 AM

Luis Arancibia can’t sleep. He’s at home waiting for more names of the dead to be released following the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida.

“It’s difficult to even want to sleep knowing that new information is coming out every hour, and these names are still slowly making their way out,” he tells SBS.

“You’re clenching with any newsflash that it could potentially be one or two people that you know... It’s terrifying,” he says.

Luis Arancibia and his Latino friends have been hit especially hard – it was Latin night at the gay club. His friend Edward Sotomayor has been confirmed dead, and no one’s heard from his friend Frank.

They’ve checked hospitals and with the police, who told them there are still bodies in the club. Authorities haven’t been able to identify all 50 victims yet.

For Keith Newhouse, who was in New York during 9/11, it brought back memories of that horrific day.

“I didn't think I'd be this close to something like this again, especially the largest mass shooting in US history,” he says.

“I spent the next three days after 9/11 calling hospitals with my friends trying to find one of our friend's dads. The difference today was with things like Facebook, it's been so much easier to make sure that friends were okay,” Mr Newhouse says.

“It's definitely scary and has me wondering why that place of all places and why this city of all cities. It doesn't make sense to me.”

Dante, who drives a cab, remembers being stunned by the wave of emergency vehicles rushing down Orange Avenue, the street Pulse nightclub is on.

“All the police and fire department in Orlando were rushing down Orange Ave at around 2am, it was quite a scene,” he tells SBS, “People thought it must be an attack.”

“It was a very popular place, everyone Is just very scared,” he tells us, “everyone shaken up because it hit so close to home.”

Demosthenes, a studio owner and recording engineer, says shaken is the word.

"I can't believe this happened so close," he says, "it will make me more aware of my surroundings now."

Chip Okelley, a business partner at LGBTQIA+ publication Fenuxe magazine, was in Tampa, Florida during the attack – but rushed to Orlando to cover the attack for the publication.

“Right now, it’s very sombre. But people are still going out and enjoying the night,” he tells SBS.

"Parliament House, a really big gay club here in Orlando, held a moment of silence for the victims at 6am this morning," Okelley says. "There are competitors, but community is community."

"They had a get-together on the dance floor, with people holding candles and gathering in support. I’d say there were about 300 to 400 people there," he says. "The owner of Parliament House made a speech showing solidarity with Pulse and sharing his condolences.” 

“He said ‘It could have been us’ – and it really could have."

Okelley says the word "unbreakable" is being used a lot. People are resolving not to let the attack divide them.

"The biggest thing now is people are telling the world 'we're still going out, we're still living our life, and we will never be afraid,'" he says.

Keith Newhouse says the community is strong and will come together through this. "It's been shocking, but our city is amazing and the outpouring of love from our city and worldwide has been incredible," he says.

For Luis and his friends, it could be another long night. He told us the majority of Pulse’s crowd on Saturday night would have been Latino, many pulled to the city by the biggest employer in town, Disneyworld.

“We never thought that anything like this would ever happen in Orlando. This is the happiest place on earth… supposedly.”

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