A former Florida state House candidate who claimed to have removed 77 bullets from 32 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting has admitted the harrowing story was a lie.
According to documents released by the state Department of Health on Wednesday and reported by online media outlet Florida Politics, Democrat Elizabeth McCarthy, who was running for House District 28, came clean during an investigation of the matter.
“It is a false statement. I just made it up,” she said. “I wanted to be somebody in the community, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I gave any impersonation. I knew it was wrong and I should have stopped ― by no means did I ever mean to put anybody in jeopardy.”
During an Orlando town hall discussion on gun safety in March, which was hosted by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), McCarthy was introduced as an emergency room doctor, and painted a vivid picture of her response to the 2016 shooting at the LGBTQ venue, which left 50 people dead, including the gunman.
“The night of Pulse I was working at Orlando Health, and you’re never prepared for it, we’ve never experienced something like that, something so horrific,” she said.
McCarthy then described her wing of the hospital as having been set up “like an assembly line” with teams extracting bullets, preparing victims for operations and performing surgeries.
“The hardest part for me was wheeling a body into the morgue and hearing the cellphones of people that had passed where their loved ones were trying to reach out to them and they couldn’t obviously answer,” she said.
The then-candidate’s speech became even more personal when she noted that “because I’m gay, it struck me even harder,” calling the victims “my people.”
In a story published on June 15, Florida Politics revealed that McCarthy had never been issued a state medical license. Until 2005, she was a licensed registered nurse, then started a business called Medical Concierge Inc. McCarthy told Florida Politics that she had “no idea” why her purported work as a doctor couldn’t be verified.
Two days later, she blasted the report on Facebook as “campaign smearing” and refused to end her candidacy. In the lengthy post, she outlined her life, career, and personal experiences — but skipped over the Pulse shooting without mention.
On June 28, McCarthy made an about-face and announced the end of her campaign, telling Florida Politics it was due to “professional obligations” and an inability to give “the campaign the attention it deserves.”
She now faces charges from the Florida Department of Health for fabricating her career as a doctor. The department is seeking $1,000 in fines in addition to $2,095 in investigative costs, according to the Orlando Sentinel.