Update, June 13, 3:17 p.m.: A Monday afternoon update to the City of Orlando’s list of victims included Christine Leinonen’s son, who was known as Drew and was 32 years old, among the dead.
Original post: In the immediate wake of the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse, many remained uncertain about the status of their friends, family, and loved ones. ABC featured a devastating interview with Christine Leinonen, the mother of a young man who had been at Pulse during the attack. Standing outside the hospital, where she says she has been waiting since 4 in the morning, Leinonen speaks through her tears of her son’s accomplishments and activism on behalf of LGBTQ rights.
Leinonen tells ABC that she still doesn’t know anything about her son’s condition. “It could be hours and hours before we find out,” she says, sobbing, before explaining that she hadn’t spoken to her son since 6 p.m. the night before. “I was just giving him some information that he was going to need to know for my upcoming surgery and that I loved him … I love you, Chris,” she tells the interviewer.
As the interview comes to a conclusion, Leinonen offers an impassioned plea: “Can we do something with the assault weapons so that we can stop this … I beg all of you, please. I wanted to let you know about my son. … We’re on this Earth for such a short time. Let’s try to get rid of the hatred and the violence.”