ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - People gathered at an Albany Lounge to honor Wednesday the lives lost in the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in modern American history.
Maybe it’s the artwork on the walls, or the florescent lights that fill the room. Crooked Lounge in Albany seems to mean something to those who need it.
Especially Wednesday for owner Tonya Smiley.
“People always say ‘well if I was in that situation I would have....’ There is no way I would’ve known what I would’ve done,” she said.
She reflects on the tragedy she nearly became a part of. On this day three years ago, she and her wife were at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, just hours before a gunman killed 49 people, and injured 53 others.
“It just really gets you, because that could have been me. For it to be so senseless, and then on that group of people, it was just horrible,” Smiley explained.
At the time, she was looking into opening a nightclub, similar to Pulse, in Albany. That shooting confirmed her plans, and she then created this safe space for many.
“I like coming to Crooked, because it’s one of the only places in Albany, I feel like I can just be myself,” said Javetta Clemons, who visits the lounge frequently.
With the victims in mind, they lit candles and read all 49 names.
Asia Brown said she knew one of the victims in the shooting.
“It was just hard for me like, I didn’t know what to do, it could’ve been me,” said Brown
Clemons said she prays and meditates for the safety of the LGBTQ community.
“No matter where we at, we still care about what’s going on in our community, nationwide and world wide,” said Clemons.
It’s that care, that Smiley said will carry her business.
“That’s what I plan to do with Crooked. I mean I just want to do something positive for the community,” said Smiley.