“We begin tonight with their names,” Anderson Cooper said at the top of his CNN broadcast Monday night, standing on the street in Orlando a block away from Pulse, the gay nightclub where dozens of people were shot and killed over the weekend. “The names of the 48 out of 49 people who have so far been identified, victims of the deadliest mass shooting in American history.”
Before he began reading that full list, Cooper, one of the most prominent openly gay figures in popular culture, added, “There’s one name you will not hear in the broadcast, one picture of a person you won’t see. We will not say the gunman’s name or show his photograph. It has been shown far too much already. Over the next two hours, we will tell you about the investigation, all the latest, what we know about what drove the shooter to do the unthinkable. But in text two hours, we want to keep the focus where it belongs, on people whose lives were cut short.”
Beginning with Edward Sotomayor Jr., one of the first victims to be named after the attack took place, Cooper went through the entire list one by one, showing photos on the screen when available and frequently pausing to collect himself as his emotions broke through and the anguish could be heard in his voice.
Cooper’s tears underscored the enormity of shooting’s impact not only on the LGBT community but also on the country as a whole. “We think it is important that you hear their names,” the anchor concluded.