Retired Detroit police officer's son among Orlando club shooting victims
Relatives have been getting the devastating news today that their loved ones are among the dead.
They include a local father Mark Bando who lost his son, Christopher Leinonen in the attack.
His father is a former Detroit police officer and can't help but wish his son or anyone one in that club would have been armed that night - so they could have fought back.
"He used to make fun of me when he was a kid because he would see me put my gun on, off-duty and say you're paranoid," Bando said. "I said 'There is evil in the world out there, son.' He didn't want to believe that about people."
But in the early morning hours Sunday in his final moments, Christopher Leinonen faced that evil.
His father, Mark Bando a retired Detroit police officer just received confirmation Monday his 32-year-old son was one of the victims in the Orlando club massacre.
"Right now I'm in a dream hoping I'll wake up from a bad dream and it will not be true," Bando said. "We kind of expected another Paris to happen somewhere in the continental U.S. but to expect that one of your own family is going to be involved seemed very remote.
Christopher grew up in Michigan, but moved to Florida with his mother where he went to school, eventually receiving his master's degree and became a psychologist.
His mother told Florida news outlets her son was very active in the gay community, formed a gay-straight alliance at his high school and received a humanitarian award as a result.
Bando says his just told him he was gay five years ago.
"Me being a former police officer everybody thought I was an old school conservative and wouldn't understand or be sympathetic to that," Bando said. "But I was actually very accepting of it. I was very proud of my son. I think any father would be proud of him, he was handsome, intelligent, educated and all-around good kid."
Christopher was at Pulse, a gay night club with his partner Juan Guerro, who also died in the mass shooting. Was it the work of a self-radicalized terrorist, or a hate crime? Bando believes both.
"What we saw the other night was somebody who was homophobic because of his religious beliefs," said Bando. "He called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS anyway so that is pretty obvious, you can't deny that connection."
The former police officer can't help but wish his son had been better protected that night hoping he would've had a chance to fight back against a madman.
"If he would have lived by me up here I would have taught him how to handle guns he probably would've had a CPL," Bando said. "If someone in that place would have had a pistol, even one person, they could have put a stop to it and saved a lot of lives."
Of course that is one of the issues many have, another mass shooter picked a gun free zone to target victims. Even if Christopher Leinonen would have had a CPL and a gun - he wouldn't have been able to have it in the club.