Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Enakai Mpire

This post discusses the shooting that took place at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. It contains difficult content, so please do not read on if you feel you may be effected. 

This article and sketch have been posted with the express written permission of the interviewees. Analog Artist Digital World takes the privacy and wishes of individuals very seriously.  

His stage name is Enakai Mpire and he worked at Pulse Nightclub. He grew up an army brat in Fairfax County Virginia near Washington DC. In fifth grade, school recess was canceled because of the DC Sniper who was terrorizing the region. His aunt taught him to walk in a zig-zag pattern to avoid being shot. He was taught to avoid being outside altogether. He had to get from the school to the bus and from the bus to home.

His father worked for the Pentagon and on September 11, 2001 his father stepped out of his office in the army department around lunch time, and that is when the plane hit. Having survived 9-11 his father decided to retire from the military and move to Florida to leave all that behind.

Enakai was 14 when the family moved to Orlando. He loved theater. In 2015 he started working for Southern Nights and then began working for Pulse. He was a shot boy or cocktail server at Pulse. Unlike bartenders, he was able to walk around and serve drinks to guests. He got to know everyone  . There were regulars and tourists, he loved working there. He grew connected to the other shot boys, they were like family. There as also a VIP shot girl. Dancers had their dance dressing room, bartenders seemed connected, and the shot boys had the kitchen. He loved the staff at Pulse.

He worked Wednesdays and Saturdays at Pulse. Wednesdays were college nights and Saturday were Latin Nights. Saturdays were problematic. It got so packed, and everyone was dancing Sensa and Meringue. Imagine trying to navigate that crowd with a tray of shots. He ended up covered in his own shots. It was so hard to walk through that sea of dancing people.

Gay days had motivated Enakai to want to work more nights at Pulse. He had talked to his manager about coming in on a more regular schedule. On that Saturday he had gotten dressed to head out to Pulse. For the first time, his mother stopped him in the kitchen. She said, "You worked a lot this week, you worked outside and are getting sick." This was true he had worked through Gay Days getting body painted at a pool party and was getting a cold. She wanted to go to Downtown Disney with his father and dance, so she asked if he could stay home with his brother. She never made such requests, so he didn't go out.

About 2am he started getting phone calls from friends. One was from David who had walked out of the doors at Pulse just about 2 minutes before the shooting started. He left in a Uber and got home and didn't know what to do. He had heard about the shooting as he was heading home. He didn't know who the shooter was.

Enakai had just broken up with a possessive boyfriend. Several days before the shooting that X went to Pulse and assaulted an employee. With that in mind Enakai feared that the shooter might be his X. He decided he had to go to Pulse to hopefully calm the situation. David picked him up and together they drove to Pulse. They arrived after the shooting. Everyone was already in the hospital. From the hospital he was directed to the Hampton Inn across the street where concerned family members were assembling. No one had any information.

He turned on Facebook Live and began recording. A form was being handed out, on it there was a spot where you could put a picture of the person you were looking for. He asked people to share photos with him and he sent the picture out into the world via FB Live to see if anyone knew where that person was. He had never seen so many followers before on FB Live. Media began contacting him.

The shot girl had last been seen entering the kitchen at Pulse. He tried so hard to find her. Since he hadn't been there when the shooting happened, he thought wherever she was is where he would be. It ate at him not knowing where she was. She didn't answer her phone. He asked about her on FB Live. There were a lot of people looking for her. Someone said she had dropped her phone. He remained hopeful. No one knew how many had died at this point. It was so chaotic. Finally someone wrote back, "She is with me, she is fine." That news brought him so much joy. He could relate to others who could then tell her family that she was fine.

He continued making connections online. "Your son is OK, he is at this place, go get him." Then came a point where he wasn't getting any news back. All that remained were missing people. He had done what he could. About 10:30am a friend showed up with phone chargers for everybody. A lot of phones were dying that night. At this point there was nothing to do but wait.

A sheriff came out with the chief operating officer from the hospital and they read a list of names of the people they had sent home or who were in stable or critical condition. Fifty two people had entered Orlando Regional Hospital from the club. Nine had died on the operating tables. Forty three were alive. There were also eleven people alive at Florida Hospital as well. Enakai turned on his FB Live to record the names as they were read. If a loved one's name was read then one or two family members could go to the hospital to visit them. By the end of the list, it got real quiet in the room.

One woman finally stood up and said, " Those names you didn't read, are you telling me those are the ones that are still in the club? Are you telling me they are dead?" There was no response. A heavy weight settled on everyone. It was like a war zone all of a sudden. People started screaming and punching walls. The people right next to Enakai were looking for their daughter and they fainted. He tried to help the father up. Looking into his eyes he realized he was not there. He had never seen someone go into shock before. He froze not knowing what to do. People were falling all around him. Something clicked on inside of him. He started yelling, "I need an EMT here!" He began commanding people to help. "This person needs water, put that person in a wheel chair." At that moment her grew up. His entire life changed.

Everyone was asked to leave and return the next morning. But how could they go home, not knowing? He stayed around as long as he could. There was a vigil that night at Parliament House. He went, but was concerned. Here he was again in a club the night after the shooting. During a moment of silence, he could not close his eyes. He looked around for possible treats. He had to go.

The next day family and friends were told to go to the Beardall Senior Center. Once again he went live on Facebook. His Pulse manager said he had to barricade himself into his house because media were trying to get answers from him. So he tuned into Enakai's feed as well. Media could not get close to the Center. Enakai felt a sense of responsibility to record. When family left the Beardall, every media camera would turn on them hoping to see them cry. The community stepped up. A leader from a church brought volunteers over to protect them from the media cameras. They surrounded the family so they could walk to their cars without being filmed.

For the first year or so after the shooting a lot of staff member were getting tickets for events. Norman who had been held hostage in the Pulse bathroom that night had survived. Enakai wanted to make sure survivors were also invited to events. He started a Survivors Facebook group and invited people he knew who had survived, they invited more survivors and family members. Over time it developed into a large support group. He was able to get Sia tickets to survivors who wanted them. He continued creating events for survivors for healing. He got a tattoo that says, "It could have been me. It could have been you. Don't forget that."  He started a group called First Responders Survival Unit. He has worked non-stop trying to help everyone recover. By helping others, he is also helping himself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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