The 49-year-old Brooklyn native was shot and killed at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Florida, where she was out dancing with her 21-year-old son Isaiah Henderson.
According to McCool’s sister-in-law Ada Pressley, the mom sacrificed herself to save her son’s life when the gunman, Omar Mateen, began shooting. “Brenda saw him point the gun. She said, ‘Get down,’ to Isaiah and she got in front of him,” Pressley told New York 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.”
Just hours before she died, McCool posted a video from the dancefloor of the nightclub. “She loved to dance,” Robert Vance Pressley, McCool’s ex-husband, said. “She was selfless, always giving of herself. All the kids in the neighborhood were part of her extended family.”
Henderson, who survived the shooting, was separated from his mother after she was shot. He and his family did not learn that McCool had died until Monday, June 13.
After receiving the tragic news, the 21-year-old blamed himself for his mother’s death. “He had to watch his mother die,” Khalisha Pressley, McCool’s oldest daughter, told NBC News. “He saw everybody getting killed. He feels it was his fault.”
Remembering her mother, Pressley added that McCool was “the sweetest lovingest person in the world.”
“My So Called Life” star Wilson Cruz, whose mother was McCool’s stepsister, also spoke out after hearing the news of her death. On Facebook, he described the 49-year-old single mom as “a proud and fierce advocate for her LGBT family. She spoke passionately about how much she loved her children.”
A GoFundMe page has now been set up by Farrell Marshall, one of McCool’s sons, to help raise money for her funeral arrangements, as well as to help support McCool's youngest children.
“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 on the fundraising site. “You will forever be in our hearts. Always. I truly love you so much MOM!”
In three days, the site has raised over $50,000 for McCool’s children.
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