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Community still mourns 1 year after Pulse nightclub massacre

<p>“A lot of people have been able to move on. We haven’t.”</p>

Jacob Rodriguez, Heather Crawford

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Published: 6/11/2017 12:58:57 PM
Updated: 4:18 PM CDT June 12, 2017

It was a hate crime against the LGBT community and a terrorist attack against the people of Orlando as a whole.

Twelve months ago, Pulse was a popular nightclub and gathering spot for Central Florida’s large LGBT community.

In the early morning of June 12, 2016, during the club’s Latin themed night, Omar Mateen came in with a Sig Sauer MCX rifle and began firing.

Mourners hold candles while observing a moment of silence during a vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the mass shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. &nbsp;AFP / Brendan Smialowski

Forty-nine were killed that night, and at least 50 more were injured. And while the wounds will never fully heal, those affected and those who care have been supporting each other and working to overcome this, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Pulse has since shut down and will not reopen as a gay nightclub; it will become a memorial. The families and friends of the 49 victims will not get their loved ones back. Those who survived will never be able to forget the horror of that night.

Mateen entered the nightclub around 2 a.m. with a rifle hidden in his clothes. When he got to the dance floor, he pulled it out and began his rampage. Orlando police responded within minutes, but a three-hour standoff ensued. Survivors would hide anywhere they could throughout the venue, trying desperately to get away from the violence.

The first reports of a gunman came out just after 2 a.m. - officers responded minutes later. It wasn&#39;t until 5 a.m. that Orlando PD SWAT busted in to confront the shooter. In those 3 hours, police worked to get injured people out. (Photo: FBI)

They sent text messages and called loved ones frantically, some thinking it was their final moments.

Then, after the longest three hours of their lives, the survivors were saved. Police smashed through a wall of the building with an armored vehicle – after sneaking some survivors out through a back wall – and shot and killed Mateen. He was an American, 29 years old, and from Fort Pierce, Florida.

But the story was never about him; it was about the innocent victims – who did nothing to bring such horror upon themselves. People who were just trying to enjoy a Saturday night out.

President Barack Obama addressed the nation less than a day after the attacks. “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and of hate,” he told a grieving nation. In the year since the attack, the tears and cries have subsided, but the scars are still fresh.