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Chicago LGBT Community Offering Support To Victims Of Orlando Mass Shooting

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando hit close to home in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood.

The brunch crowd at Drew's on Halsted was tuned in to news coverage of the shooting massacre that left at least 50 people dead, and 53 wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Owner Drew Johnson said he won't give in to fear, but he acknowledged something similar could happen in Chicago.

"It is something that I worry about … and anywhere, any time – especially hate crime, let alone terrorism, or a combination of both," he said.

The gunman in the Orlando shooting has been identified as Omar Mateen, and sources have convirmed authorities are investigating whether he had ties to Islamic terrorism. Sources tell CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegeus that Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS. During the 911 call, Mateen referenced Boston marathon bombersDzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Pegues reports.

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The suspect's father has spoken out to the media, saying his son was anti-gay and he doesn't believe the attack was motivated by religion.

The FBI says they haven't determined whether the massacre was a hate crime, but Florida Rep. Alan Grayson said he believes "it's no coincidence that the attack took place where it did and when it did."


Many in Chicago's LGBTQ community were planning vigils for the victims Sunday evening – one at Halsted & Roscoe in Boystown, and one at Hamburger Mary's in Andersonville.

Dawn Valenti, a crisis responder with Chicago Survivors, said she hopes people will come together following the massacre in Orlando.

"I just want to put this vigil together so we can offer our prayers and condolences to the victims, surviving victims, and the family members in Orlando; and to kind of let them know that we stand by them, and we support them," she said.

Valenti said she wished Orlando had a support group for families of homicide victims like Chicago Survivors.

"I wish our program existed there, because that's what we do here in Chicago is walk the families through the aftermath of a homicide," she said. "It's pretty devastating."

Johnson said he's willing to help the victims in any way he can.

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