- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The owner of the Orlando nightclub where a gunman fatally shot 49 patrons hosted a street party Thursday night to show that “Pulse is alive.”

Pulse owner Barbara Poma held the block party in the neighborhood in downtown Orlando.

The party had a Latin theme, since it was “Latin night” at Pulse on June 12, when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. In addition to those killed, another 53 patrons were wounded.

Spokeswoman Sara Brady said Poma wants to show that Pulse’s mission continues and that the club is moving forward.

For Orlando Torres, the event offered an opportunity to hug friends and dance with people who were regular patrons at the bar.

He said he spent hours hidden inside the club’s bathroom the night of the shooting.

“I would have died but for the person who fell on me when they were shot,” Torres told the Orlando Sentinel. “Even so, I felt the killer poke me in the back to see if I would move.”

Poma hasn’t decided if the gay nightclub will ever reopen.

Carlos Perez, an employee at the nightclub, said the street party helped workers feel better, but not normal. “We can’t feel normal yet after what happened,” Perez said.

Mateen died in a gun battle with police. In a 911 call from the club, he pledged solidarity with the Islamic State group.

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