Monday, March 20, 2017

Mina remembers Eddie Justice

Mina Justice is the mother of Eddie Justice who was one of the 49 people who died at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. She recently moved into a new home in a suburban development that is just now being built. Pam Schwartz and I drove through the development which was mostly barren earth with driveways leading to nowhere. Surveyors were dividing up the plots of dirt.

That Saturday of June 12, Mina was working. She had 3 retail jobs to get by. He stopped by her place that day at 1:45pm and Eddie mentioned that he planned to go out that night. She always supported his lifestyle and he had a way of always breathing life and humor into a room. ''I got to enjoy him for 30 years, my son and me were like this." She hugged herself.

That evening at 2:05am she got a text from her son, it read, "Mommy I love you". He let her know that "They are in the club, they are shooting."  He let her know that he was in the woman's bathroom and that others were hurt. "I can hear the man coming, He will shoot me. Tell them to hurry up mom. I'm gonna die." Mina asked if the shooter was in the bathroom with Eddie, his reply was, "He's a terror and then the final message at 2:51 said, "Yes."

Mina jumped into her car after those texts and drove to Pulse. It is a long drive but she managed to get there in 9 minutes. She was driving fast. When she got close to Pulse, others were gathered, not knowing what was happening. Then she heard a loud boom. She ran down the road crying. She hugged strangers who were in as much pain. "He was the sixth person taken out, it was a nightmare." She said. Jennifer Nichols, a Pulse employee stayed with her all night long. Ultimately the FBI questioned Mina and she had to tell the story again. She has avoided the media, and moving into the new home helped isolate her.

"Since that night nothing has been the same. My heard is dark." She said. She hasn't been able to work. Her life is on hold. She showed Pam and I her son's room in the new home. The bed was neatly made and the room immaculate. A four foot high portrait of him hung on the wall. She asked us what we noticed most about the portrait and she pointed out his eyes. They seem to follow you, and there is joy in them. Eddie has never been in the room but it stands as a reminder of his warmth. The hallway was was covered in family photos.  He could be seen with his brother and sisters and he was holding Mina in another shot. Her son is with her everywhere she goes.

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