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LGBT Communities Around U.S. Mourn Orlando Nightclub Victims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- LGBT communities around the country offered support and planned vigils Sunday, after a shooting killed 50 people at an Orlando nightclub.

The attack on the Pulse nightclub early Sunday was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

In New York, people flocked to the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village Sunday evening to grieve the deaths.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reported, the crowd grew by the hundreds over a period of three hours. People laid flowers, sang, and made speeches, and while everyone was devastated, the message that rang out was what the LGBT has been saying for decades – love will overcome.

"This is a place where the community comes to celebrate, and it's a place where the community comes to mourn," said Stonewall Inn owner Stacy Lentz.

One poet laid 50 flowers in front of the historic tavern at 53 Christopher St. – one for each victim.

"Here we are once again rallying together," said Anthony Coda Lopez. "It is a sad, sad state of affairs."

As the NYPD Counterterrorism Task Force guarded the block, many in the LGBT community said they deal with threats of violence every day.

"The story of violence against LGBT gay people is something that's going on all around the world," one attendee said.

But there was just no room for hate outside the Stonewall Sunday night.

"It's about love," said Brian Worth. "It's not about us versus them. It's not about hate."

A group of mourners also gathered in Union Square. People embraced one another in grief, all trying to make sense of the senseless act of violence.

Many on Twitter rallied groups to march from Union Square to Columbus Circle.

Pride flags were also unfurled outside of City Hall to honor the Orlando Shooting victims and to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community.

FULL STORY |PHOTOS | Local Response| 5 Deadliest Mass Shootings In U.S. | Info On Suspect | National Reaction |NYC Mourns

"It's an act of terror, theres no question about that," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "And it's an act of hate."

NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill says there will be an increased police presence at LGBT institutions, nightlife venues and crowded areas, WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini reported.

"I will be working with the LGBT community not just in Manhattan but in the outer boroughs also to make sure we deploy properly to make people not only safe but to feel safe throughout the city."

Los Angeles
In West Hollywood outside Los Angeles, the LA Pride Parade went on as usual following the massacre in Orlando – and also after a heavily-armed man was arrested and told police he was in the area for the West Hollywood parade.

At a news conference before the West Hollywood Parade, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said no one would not be intimidated.

"As Americans, we will not shrink away, we will not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back in our closets. We are out here to march, to celebrate and to mourn," Garcetti was quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

The LA Pride Parade began with a moment of silence Sunday.

San Francisco
A vigil was also held Sunday evening in San Francisco's famous Castro District. The vigil took place at Harvey Milk Plaza, a site named after the gay rights pioneer and San Francisco city supervisor who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in 1978.

"San Francisco stands in solidarity with the community of Orlando and the nation in the aftermath of this terrible day," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

"This is a stark reminder that violence still threatens our LGBT community. Senseless acts of violence against innocents, fueled by hate and easy access to deadly firearms, have become all-too frequent. We must continue to work each day to reduce gun violence and ensure every community is safe."

Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reported the tone turned solemn at the Capital Pride Festival, which was in progress on Sunday.

The Post quoted David Marnier, executive director of the DC Center for the LGBT Community: "It's a sad day for all of us and a powerful reminder that there's still a lot of hatred in the world. Much work remains all around the world. And much work remains right here in the District of Columbia."

The events in Orlando were also on the minds of those who attended the Philadelphia Pride Parade on Sunday.

One man, Matt, told KYW Newsradio he used to live in Orlando and had been to Pulse nightclub.

"It's imperative we continue to do events like this. I was even more empowered to come out today and march in this parade today and make sure my voice gets heard," he said.

Security was also tightened at the Philadelphia Parade, said Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan.

Two of the people killed in the attack were from Philadelphia, KYW-TV, CBS3 Philadelphia reported. A news intern working in Philadelphia was also among the victims shot and was expected to recover.

On the opposite side of Pennsylvania, the Orlando victims were honored at the Pittsburgh Pride Equality March.

This year the theme of the Equality March was "Together We Are Stronger." That theme has an even broader meaning.

"I think if you look around you see people of all shades — black, white, straight and gay, Jewish and Christian, they all here together saying "together we are stronger." And we pay homage to the families of the victims in Orlando," Candy Castleberry Singleton, chief executive officer of Dignity & Respect, was quoted by CBS Pittsburgh.

"When one of us is harmed, it's an in justice to us all and we just have to recognize we are in this together," Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay told CBS Pittsburgh.

In Boston, pride event organizers planned moments of silence at block parties scheduled this week to honor the Orlando victims.

A Boston Pride spokeswoman said the moment of silence was held at 4 p.m. Sunday at parties in the city's Back Bay and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods.

Boston police spokeswoman Rachel Maguire told The Boston Globe that police will increase security at all of Sunday's events in light of the shooting in Orlando.

Hundreds of people gathered at Halsted and Roscoe streets in Chicago's Boystown district to mourn the victims, Sandra Torres of WBBM-TV, CBS2 Chicago reported.

Among those in the Chicago crowd was David Sotomayor. He is the cousin of Edward Sotomayor Jr., who was killed in the shooting.

"He was such a good person. He was such a good person. And it just, if it was a car crash or anything, it would be a little bit more understanding, but to be from this kind of hate, it's harder," Sotomayor told WBBM-TV.

Sotomayor said the Boystown rally gave him strength in the midst of enormous pain.

"I was just overwhelmed. I just wanted to be bitter, get into bed, and just cry, and then I just thought, this is not what Eddie would do," he told WBBM-TV. "He'd put his top hat on and get out there and make a difference, and I came and I saw everybody out here – it was overwhelming."

A vigil was also held outside Hamburger Mary's restaurant in Chicago's Andersonville section.

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 told CBS Chicago 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," Johnson said.

Chicago Police said there would also be increased patrols in the patrol district that includes Boystown, as well as special events across the city on Sunday, with a particular focus on CTA hubs, downtown, and other heavily traveled areas.

In Milwaukee, the annual PrideFest held a moment of silence and a tribute event for the Orlando victims and urged performers to honor the tragedy. The festival also introduced full metal detection at admission gates and increased security.

"We are furious about this senseless violence," Wes Shaver, president elect of Milwaukee Pride, Inc., said in a statement published by CBS affiliate WDJT-TV. "This act of terror sought to silence our community during a month of national LGBTQ celebration. We will not and cannot allow ourselves to be silenced."

In downtown Detroit, the motor City Pride Festival went on as planned after the Orlando massacre, with some of those attending saying it was a chance to show support for the LGBT community.

Tiffany Simokovich, 28, of Port Huron told The Detroit News she didn't feel like there was a risk in bringing her 5-month-old son, Jacob, to Hart Plaza for the parade. She says she felt safe being around so many people, saying she's found that people take care of each other.

CBS Detroit reported a candlelight vigil for the Orlando victims was also held Sunday evening outside the city hall in Ferndale, a northern suburb of Detroit.

"This month, as we remember those who fought in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, we also mourn the loss of our family who were killed in Orlando today," said Julia Music, chair of Ferndale Pride, which had its pride festival Saturday, June 4.

In Cleveland, the LGBT Cleveland Community Center posted to Facebook, "Our thoughts and love go out to everyone in Orlando," and advised that the center would provide support and people to speak to on Monday.

Our thoughts and love go out to everyone in Orlando. For anyone needing support locally, The Center will have support and individuals to speak to tomorrow, Monday, June 13th, from 3 until 8.

Posted by LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland on Sunday, June 12, 2016

"I can't put into words the loss we all feel. That the largest shooting in modern American history happened at a gay bar is a sign that we have a long, long way to go," Equality Ohio executive director Alana Jochum said in a statement published by CBS affiliate WOIO-TV. "Today, I also remember that transgender people, in particular Black and brown transgender women, face incredible violence just for existing.

"We have marriage equality, but that was never the end. Marriage equality was a baton in a relay race. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim LGBTQ Ohioans and allies to look for a future where people can be themselves without fear," Jochum continued.

St. Louis
In St. Louis, flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims, and a vigil was held Sunday evening at the Transgender Memorial Garden of St. Louis. The main focus of the vigil was ending violence and promoting understanding, CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reported.

In Houston, organizers emphasized that a Pride Parade will go on as planned on Saturday, June 25, CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reported. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued tweets mourning the loss of life in Orlando.

The Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays also held a moment of silence for the Orlando victims before their game Sunday, KHOU reported.

A candlelight vigil was also held in Houston's Hermann Park, KHOU reported.

"Many families have been ripped apart, and they're going to suffer this loss for the rest of their lives," said Mayor Turner was quoted by KHOU.

Hundreds also attended a vigil in for the Orlando victims at an LGBT resource center in Dallas. They made a two-mile walk to the Legacy of Love monument in Dallas, Joel Thomas of KTVT-TV, Dallas reported.

At one point, a rainbow appeared above the crowd and they erupted in cheers, Thomas reported.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and religious leaders from all the major faiths were in attendance, Thomas reported.

Organizers of the Denver PrideFest said their event would likewise go on as planned next weekend.

Organizer Debra Pollock said parade and rally participants in Denver have always been security-conscious, but members of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado have also received training on how to deal with active-shooter situations. Another Colorado support group, One Colorado, is planning to get the active-shooter training in the near future.

Seattle also held a vigil at Cal Anderson Park Sunday evening, and organizers of the Seattle PrideFest urged anyone in Orlando to give blood.

OFFICIAL PRIDEFEST STATEMENT ON LAST NIGHT'S SHOOTING (also, please join us and the community for a vigil in Cal...

Posted by Seattle PrideFest on Sunday, June 12, 2016

"An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we at PrideFest will use the rest of this season of Pride to renew our fight against forces of hate that seek to divide us and marginalize our community," PrideFest organizer Egan Orion said in a statement published by CBS affiliate KIRO-TV.

In Miami Beach, Florida, young and old attended a vigil in Sound Space Park. The vigil brought a slew of elected leaders from the beach and from across the causeway to be a part of the emotional event that was quickly put together by Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, WFOR-TV reported.

"If you want to make a better world, you need to start with peace and accept everyone," said attendee Sophia Gutierrez.

"It is going to be one of those days when your heart just cries," said attendee Constance Collins.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado urged the crowd to back legislation to ban the sale of automatic weapons.

Meantime, other elected officials spoke about how the Orlando shooting served to bring people together as one: "Today we are all LGBT" was the message, CBS Miami reported.

Tampa/St. Petersburg
In St. Petersburg, Florida, about 100 miles removed from Orlando, organizers of St. Pete Pride said they considered the people of Orlando their family in Pride.

"No single act of hate can detour us from coming together as a community," Eric Skains, Executive Director of St. Pete Pride, said in a news release published by CBS affiliate WTSP-TV. "Pride and unity is more important now than ever before. From the Stonewall Inn in New York and the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans to the now Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, acts of violence at LGBTQ+ welcoming establishments has been part of our dark history. Each time our community has come together and silenced the voices of hate."

Across the bay in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said his city would do whatever he could to assist.

"This tragedy is particularly horrific for our GLBT community and their families and Tampa stands in solidarity with them in their time of loss, Buckhorn said in a statement.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Orlando shooting, CBS News reports. The terror group's news organization, Aamaq Agency, said the attack was "carried out by an Islamic State fighter."

Names of some of the victims have been released by the City of Orlando as officials work tirelessly to identify individuals and notify family.

Among them are:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

At least 53 other people were hospitalized, most in critical condition, officials said.

The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a U.S. citizen from Fort Pierce, Florida.

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