Brooklyn native Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49, was at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., with her 21-year-old son Isaiah Henderson when gunman Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire early Sunday morning.
McCool’s sister-in-law Ada Pressley told the NY Daily News that McCool saw Mateen direct his gun toward them.
“Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah, and she got in front of him,” Pressley told the NY Daily News.
“She was shot dead. That’s how much she loved her kids. If it weren’t for her, he’d of been shot,” she told the NY Daily News.
McCool posted footage from the club on Facebook around midnight, hours before the shooting on Sunday.
McCool’s family told the News she recently moved to Orlando to be with her youngest children.
On Monday, McCool’s family found out that McCool had passed away. Her sister-in-law said she was shot at least two times.
McCool supported her son, who is gay, however she could.
“Every year she comes to New York to celebrate the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” Pressley said. “But this year she went to Pulse to celebrate. If she’d come to New York, she’d be alive.”
McCool’s family said that she and her son got split up during the rampage,.
Mateen left at least 49 people dead and 53 wounded before he was killed in a shootout with SWAT members.
“She was a brave woman,” Pressley said. “All day and night we hoped she would be in the hospital.”
Farrell Marshall, McCool’s fifth-oldest son, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for her funeral.
“One decision changed the lives of many. All I ask is for prayers and whatever you can to help me and brothers sisters to be able to pick up the pieces where she left off,” Marshall wrote.
“You will forever be in our hearts. Always. I truly love you so much MOM!” he wrote.
Since the page was created on Sunday and at the time of this writing, the Marshall family has raised $19,937 of their $30,000 goal.
“She loved to dance,” McCool’s ex-husband, Robert Vance Pressley, who met McCool while he was in the Air Force, told the NY Daily News. “She was selfless, always giving of herself. All the kids in the neighborhood were part of her extended family.”
Khalisha Pressley, McCool’s oldest daughter, told NBC News, about her brother, “He had to watch his mother die.“
“He saw everybody getting killed,” she added.
McCool was a two-time cancer survivor and a mother of 11 children.