- During the 2016 Pulse shooting that left 49 dead, Christopher Hansen helped pull survivors to safety.
- A tragically similar shooting targeted an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs on Saturday, leaving 5 dead.
- Hansen said the survivors of the Colorado shooting are about to begin a journey toward hope and healing.
Christopher Hansen said he was “devastated” when he woke up to the news of the shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs this morning.
Colorado authorities said Sunday morning that five people were killed and 18 injured in the shooting at around midnight local time, though the number of casualties is “subject to change,” Insider previously reported. Police have a 22-year-old suspect in custody.
Hansen, who survived the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that left 49 dead, said the news triggered flashbacks of when he escaped the nightclub in Florida and helped carry survivors to safety.
“It is something that is terrible, that is tragic to our community. Being targeted as a gay individual, or a nightclub of fun and excitement, a safe haven for laughter and joy and connection with your friends,” Hansen, 38, told Insider. “Then being shot up at the end of the night or even anytime during the night, knowing that you’re just being targeted for hate, or targeted because you’re different, or targeted because someone else is having a bad day.”
He added: “It sucks that when you turn on the TV, or you have a text message, or you open up your social media that someone else is having the same experience that you’ve had. That nobody understands or nobody knows that yellow brick road that you’ve traveled on, hoping that you can click your heels. ‘There’s no place like home’ to bring you home. But really you’re still stuck in that same nightmare that you’ve been in from the very beginning.”
When he went to Pulse that night, Hansen said he was new to Orlando and was going to the club for the first time. He recalled wearing a t-shirt with an American flag on it under his dress shirt on what he thought would be an unassuming night out.
“Looking back at it, the whole devastation of it was also a story of survival,” Hansen said. “It’s like the journey of going through this and saying, ‘Hey, America’s strong and you can come at us with your terror and your attacks and your hatred, but I’m an American too, just like you and just like everyone else here. And together, we stood strong, and together, we can get through this.'”
Hansen, who now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, said he believes the survivors of the Colorado Springs shooting are about to begin a long, painful journey toward hope, healing, acceptance, and forgiveness. He has since dedicated his time to memorializing those lost by advocating for a day of remembrance – Reflections of Resilience Day on June 11.
“Sometimes you’re going to be sitting out in the middle of your storm just floating there, drifting along numb and feeling like you’re lost and there’s nowhere to go. But in order to get through that storm, you have to continue through your journey,” Hansen said. “As long as you’re alive, there’s still hope.”