• A defiant fist is raised at a vigil for the Orlando shooting, as Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma vows to reopen her club. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
"I will not let hate win," says owner Barbara Poma.
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

16 Jun 2016 - 11:08 AM  UPDATED 16 Jun 2016 - 11:08 AM

The owner of Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were killed by a lone gunman, has vowed to reopen the club as a tribute to those who lost their lives, the survivors, and their loved ones.

Barbara Poma said her Orlando business will honour those who lost their lives in the mass shooting on June 12.

"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," Poma told NBC's Today program.

"I will not let hate win. We will heal together."

Poma started Pulse nightclub after her brother's death from complications due to HIV, to keep his heartbeat alive and to provide a "safe place" for the LGBT+ community.

In the wake of the shooting, she has a new vision for the club when it reopens.

"It's not to just honour my brother anymore. It is to honour all the families affected," she said. "It is to honour the true spirit of Orlando. Pulse will always continue to be the heartbeat of Orlando."

Poma was not in the club during the attack and said she can't stop imagining the terror felt by the people inside the nightclub during the shooting.

"I don't think I'll ever stop that," she said, fighting back tears.

Poma said learning about the shooting from her manager was "the most surreal phone call" she has ever received.

"He just kept saying, 'We have a shooter. We have a shooter'. I just kept screaming, 'What?' And finally it sunk in and you can't wrap your brain around that. You just can't," she recalled.

One of Poma's employees - a security guard called KJ Morris - was killed in the attack at the club, which has been running for 13 years.