A former Democratic Florida House candidate admitted this week that she lied about treating dozens of victims of the June 12, 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
Catherine Elizabeth McCarthy, who recently ended her run for the Florida House, admitted to health department investigators that she had fabricated stories about removing dozens of bullets from victims of the shooting at Pulse. (RELATED: Full Year After Pulse Nightclub Massacre, Orlando Paper Says ‘Few Answers’ For Terrorist’s Motives)
McCarthy claimed that she had gone to medical school after working as a “cardio RN,” and was on the front lines following the attack at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) where she had removed 77 bullets from over 30 of the victims of that shooting, where 49 people were killed.
“It was like an assembly line,” McCarthy told the audience at a Valencia College East town hall. “The hardest part for me was wheeling a body into the morgue and hearing the cell phones ring of the people that passed.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, McCarthy was introduced as a “doctor” by Democratic Florida Rep. Darren Soto at that event and at least one other in St. Cloud. She “showed her mettle and heroism after the Pulse nightclub shooting,” Soto reportedly said.
But officials at ORMC told investigators that they had no record of McCarthy ever working for them, and the investigation eventually led them to question McCarthy directly about her claims.
McCarthy also claimed to have worked for the Florida Heart Group of Orlando — but no one there had any record of her employment either.
“It is a false statement. I just made it up. I wanted to be somebody in the community, and I’m sorry,” McCarthy told investigators. “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.”
McCarthy may have even taken the line about the haunting sound of cell phones from the statements of first responders immediately followed the Pulse night club shooting.
CNN: Investigators forced to “tune out’ sound of ringing phones coming from bodies strewn about scene of massacre.
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As recently as last week, however, McCarthy was still defending her story.
“Whoever is saying these things, their credibility will fall … once the truth comes out,” she told Florida Politics. “It hurts me; it really does. First of all, why would I make something like this up? I was an RN for 25 years. I’ve been in the medical field all my life.”
The Florida Health Department could only find records that McCarthy was a registered nurse until her license expired in 2005, and confirmed that she was never licensed as a physician.
McCarthy also claimed to have played as a point guard for the women’s basketball teams at both University of Florida and Florida State University in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but neither school’s athletic department had any records confirming that story, according to Florida Politics. Florida State University has no record of the bachelor’s degree McCarthy claimed to have earned in the early 1990s.
The former Florida House candidate faces fines of over $3000 for misrepresenting herself as a physician.