Standing blocks away from Pulse, the site of the Orlando massacre nearly two days earlier, Anderson Cooper fought back tears Monday while reporting live on CNN.
The newsman, who came out publicly as a gay man four years ago next month, said he would not air the name and photo of the man who attacked the LGBT nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring 53 more in a mass shooting. “In the next two hours, we want to try to keep the focus where we think it belongs, on the people whose lives were cut short,” Cooper explained.
He later honored the 49 victims who were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. “They are more than a list of names,” Cooper said, his voice beginning to shake. “They are people who loved and who were loved.”
Speaking through tears, he began to describe 48 of the 49 victims identified by authorities, while their names, photos, and ages appeared on the screen. “Edward Sotomayor Jr. He worked at a travel agency that catered to the gay community. His family says he was witty, charming,” said Cooper, pausing as the emotion overwhelmed him. “And that he always left things better than he found them. He was 34 years old.”
Cooper recognized the 49 people who died because “we think it’s important you hear their names,” he said.
Watch Cooper’s powerful tribute in the video below.