Caribbean-Americans could be among Orlando casualties
In the wake of the tragic shooting death of 49 individuals at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last Sunday morning, reports suggest at least two Jamaicans may be among the casualties, including the 53 injured.
The Jamaican Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Jonhson-Smith, has issued a release stating that the Jamaican Consulate in Miami received unconfirmed reports that at least two Jamaican nationals were casualties in the attack. However, Jamaican Consul General for the South East USA in Miami, Franz Hall, says they are still confirming these claims.
“The Consulate has been in touch with several Jamaican community leaders in Orlando to ascertain whether any Jamaican nationals were affected,” said Hall. “We have also requested the City’s assistance in identifying Jamaican nationals who may have been affected by this tragedy.”
The Consul is also conducting “checks through the Office of Foreign Missions, and also the hospitals in Orlando, in an effort to confirm these reports,” said Hall, though he warned the public that “the verification process however, may take some time, since nationality is not recorded with the names of persons who have been killed or injured.”
As officials wait for confirmation, Minister Johnson-Smith sent condolences to the community following the tragedy.
“We grieve with you and are shocked and outraged at yet another senseless act of violence that represents the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.,” said Johnson-Smith. She also thanked Jamaicans in the Diaspora for their constant communication with the Jamaican Consulate in Miami, “as they work together assiduously to account for all Jamaicans.”
Checks with diplomatic representatives of other English-speaking Caribbean nations in Miami also showed no evidence of any other nationals as victims of the shootings.
Meanwhile, the tragedy has been an ordeal for Caribbean-Americans with friends and relatives in the General Orlando Area, who were calling and texting loved ones during the evolving situation to ensure they were alive and well.
For April Myrie of South Miami, who had sons and nephews visiting the Orlando area on the weekend, “I felt like ice water was running through my veins when I heard there was a shooting in a night club, as their plans included night clubbing. Thank God they are safe and sound.”
Following security concerns in the aftermath of the shooting, Jamaica Diaspora Board Rep Wayne Golding say the upcoming Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Orlando will not be affected, despite the club’s proximity to the conference’s location. Golding says additional security precautions will be secured for the conference, set for June 24 through 26th at Embassy Suite by Hilton.
“There’s a high level of cognizance with regard to safety and security for the Summit and Gala activities,” said Golding.