49-year-old Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was what many would consider a cool mom. She had tattoos, she rocked a trendy haircut, she loved salsa dancing and she totally supported her 21-year-old gay son, Isaiah Henderson. So much so that she tagged along with him and his friends last Saturday when they went out to Pulse Nightclub.
Brenda, a two-time cancer survivor and mother of 11, was dancing with Isaiah when Omar Mateen opened fire on the club with an AR-15 assault-style weapon. Bullets flew through the air. Bodies dropped all around them. And that’s when the gunman turned his weapon their way, according to her sister-in-law Ada Pressley.
“Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah and she got in front of him,” Pressley tells NY Daily News. “She was a brave woman. All day and night we hoped she would be in the hospital.”
It wasn’t until late Monday that the family learned Brenda had not survived.
“She was shot dead,” Pressley explains. “That’s how much she loved her kids. If it weren’t for her, he’d of been shot.”
Just two hours before her death, Brenda had uploaded this video of herself Salsa dancing on Facebook:
Because of his mother’s bravery, Isaiah survived Saturday night’s terrorist attack. Afterwards, he posted on social media:
Just laying here thinking that I was just with my mom 24 hours ago, this is so surreal I love you mom.
According to Pressley, Brenda was always very supportive of her gay son.
“Every year she comes to New York to celebrate the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” she said. “But this year she went to Pulse to celebrate. If she’d come to New York, she’d be alive.”
Another one of her sons, Farrell Marshall, set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his mother’s funeral costs. So far, over $20,000 has been raised.
“One decision changed the lives of many,” wrote Marshall. “You will forever be in our hearts. Always. I truly love you so much MOM!”
The day before she died, Brenda wrote the following status update on her Facebook page:
Words Brenda lived and died by.