Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2018

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Hundreds gather in Las Vegas to mourn tragedy in Orlando

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Steve Marcus

Alyssa Buhay, center, and others hold candles during a vigil and call to action at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Las Vegas. The event was a show of solidarity and support after Sunday morning’s mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where at least 49 patrons were killed and 53 injured.

Vigil for Orlando at The Center

Jennifer White and Lady Binayan hold candles during a vigil and call to action at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Las Vegas. The event was a show of solidarity and support after Sunday morning’s mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where at least 50 patrons were killed and 53 injured. Launch slideshow »

Rainbow-colored flags waved as candlelight illuminated homemade signs advocating peace at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada tonight as over 600 attendees stood somberly for a vigil, just hours after the greatest mass shooting in U.S. history.

"This should never happen," said Nevada State Sen. Pat Spearman, who organized the event. "We need to address this hatred and stop it out at its roots."

The vigil came less than 24 hours after police say 29-year-old Omar Mateen entered gay Orlando nightclub Pulse early today and opened fire on nearly 320 people in the venue with an AR-15 style assault rifle, killing 50 and wounding 53 more before being shot dead by responding officers.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer called today "the most difficult day in the history of Orlando," while President Barack Obama labeled the shooting "an act of terror and hate."

On Sunday, over 400 people gathered in the Center's main "Twelve Step" room, while overflow crowd of about 200 more waited outside. The grieving crowd gave frequent applause during statements by Nevada politicians and public figures including Spearman, Congresswoman Dina Titus, Nevada State Sen. Aaron Ford, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Pastor Charlotte Morgan. The ceremony concluded with the lighting of candles as Spearman led the crowd in singing "No Man Is an Island."

"We have to leave here today to do something about these kind of crimes," Spearman said. "Don't leave and just say it was good to be here."

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