ORLANDO, Fla. — After the mass shooting early Sunday morning that took the lives of 49 people at Pulse Nightclub, the effects were felt across the nation — including by a Richmond County native.
Morgan Quinn Germanos, 31, is originally from Richmond County but moved to Florida in 2004 — spending the last five years living in Orlando.
She now owns GQ Motorsports — a car dealership — with her husband, but before that she was a bartender at the popular Blue Martini. That’s where she became friends with Shane Tomlinson, lead singer of the band Frequency and one of the 49 victims of Sunday’s shooting.
Tomlinson, who is originally from Charlotte, graduated from East Carolina University in 2003 before finding his way to the “Theme Park Capital of the World.”
“Two years ago my husband and I did a benefit for COPD, and Shane did a concert for us,” said Germanos. “He was at Blue Martini Saturday night. He left there and went to Pulse. A lot of my good friends are musicians, and it’s affected that community too.”
Germanos, along with her husband and two stepchildren, live five miles — and five minutes depending on traffic — from Orange Avenue where Pulse is located. Although the couple had gotten a babysitter and went to Dave and Buster’s in the opposite direction that night, Germanos said they, too, could’ve been in that area.
“It is a gay club, but I’ve been there numerous times,” she said. “It’s a predominantly gay club, but plenty of people go there. That’s one thing I haven’t liked on the news — the gay nightclub. That’s what it is, but that’s not all it is. That was Latin night. Anywhere there’s a Latin night, they flock. It’s Orlando. Most people are Latino.”
Four days later Orlando is still in shock, she added, and Orange Avenue is a restricted area. Being in the industry and now with kids in the house, it was a harrowing experience for Germanos.
“They shut down Orange Avenue. I think it’s still shut down,” she said. “We didn’t leave the house that day. It was all over the news. I had to explain that to them. I don’t know how to explain it.
“It’s flabbergasting that it happened,” she continued. “It’s scary with kids. It was five miles away. I’ve thought about it many times in the bar. What if someone came into the bar? There’s no metal detectors.”
With local blood bank lines literally wrapped around the block, Germanos said she intends to give blood after the lines die down because the city has rallied together after a tragedy.
“I figured I’d wait a while. These people are gonna need more surgeries and more blood,” said Germanos. “There was a huge vigil downtown at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center that people went to. Muslim leaders, Christians, the LGBT community, there was thousands of people there. Everybody wants to do something.”
Germanos’ personal opinion is she’s worried Sunday’s shooting was just the beginning, but it’s not going to keep her or her family from going on with their lives.
“I’m still somewhat in shock,” she said. “I’m not gonna be scared. I’m gonna be extremely alert, but I’m not gonna not go somewhere because I’m scared. I’m very proud of my community. They’ve come together peacefully and united. I was very happy with that.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.