EXCLUSIVE: Wilson Cruz Speaks Out About His Relative Who Died in the Orlando Shooting: 'We Are Devastated'
By Johnni Macke
Wilson Cruz is one of the many people mourning the loss of a loved one after the Orlando shooting on Sunday.
On Monday, the My So-Called Life actor revealed that he had lost someone near and dear to him in the horrific shooting that claimed 49 lives, and left more than 50 others injured, at an LGBT nightclub called Pulse.
The 42-year-old actor, who is openly gay himself, exclusively opened up to ET about his relative, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, who was a mother of 11 and two-time cancer survivor.
"Brenda went to Pulse the way she frequently did, with her 21-year-old openly gay son, Isaiah," Cruz exclusively told ET. "They loved to go there on that night because it was Latin night and they could be with their friends, dance salsa and find refuge in a safe space."
"That joy was taken from them and she and her joy for life were taken from us and we are devastated," he continued.
The Red Band Society actor also posted a photo with Brenda, who was his mother’s stepsister - though Cruz told ET that the two were close in age, they were like cousins - and captioned it with a touching tribute to her.
"This was the last time I saw Brenda McCool. She was with us when our grandfather passed this passed [this] fall. She was a fighter. A cancer survivor. A stellar mother. A proud and fierce advocate for her LGBT family," he wrote on Facebook.
"She spoke passionately about how much she loved her children. She was hilarious and loving and tore up the dance floor when salsa or anything was playing. I can't believe she's gone. I mourn with her kids and my entire family. The violence and hate has to end. The guns have to f***ing GO! Our hearts are BROKEN! #Pulse#orlando."
"Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me and my family. Here is a profile about our Brenda McCool," Cruz later tweeted in response to all the positive messages he received.
"She was a good mother [and] a good provider," McCool's ex-husband, Robert Vince Pressley Sr,. told NBC News. "She was always trying to help people, taking people in who had no place to live."
For more information on the tragic shooting and reactions from other celebrities, see the video below.