ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida residents who lost loved ones in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub last year held a vigil Tuesday evening for the recent Las Vegas massacre.
About 200 people gathered in downtown Orlando as a nearby church rang its bell 59 times, once for each of those killed in Sunday evening’s shooting.
One Orlando Alliance, the group that organized the vigil, said they want to show solidarity with those who were harmed when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel onto a crowd of more than 22,000 at a country music festival. Besides the 59 who were killed, authorities say more than 500 were wounded. Paddock killed himself.
Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma told the Orlando crowd Tuesday that this past weekend’s shooting takes them all back to the morning of June 12, 2016. That’s when Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 58 others at Pulse. Mateen was killed during a standoff with police. It had been the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until Sunday.
“We will not and cannot let hate win,” Poma said. “We will never get over it. We can move forward. It’s our turn to pay it forward. We must continue to fight for love. It is love that must win.”
Pulse has remained closed since the shooting, but Poma has previously announced plans to turn the club into a memorial.
Tuesday’s vigil ended with the group singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Attendees also wrote messages on a large banner that said, “Love for every life. Orlando united with Las Vegas.”