Hundreds attend local vigils for Orlando shooting victims

Portland's Pride Parade and Festival is this week

Portlanders showed their support for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting outside Embers club, Sunday June 12, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The worst mass shooting in U.S. history left at least 50 dead and 53 injured in Orlando early Sunday. The suspect, Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida, died in a gun battle with police after holding dozens hostage inside a popular gay nightclub.

The Q Center held a vigil Sunday night at their location in Northwest Portland. A number of other local vigils honored those impacted by the shooting.

A massive crowd gathered outside the Embers club at NW Broadway and NW Couch to show solidarity with victims of the mass shooting in Orlando. About an hour later, another large vigil was held at Salmon Street Springs in Waterfront Park.

GoFundMe: Support Victims of Pulse Shooting

“I hope that everybody in Orlando knows they are not alone,” Rebecca Mataya said.

Local choirs, LGBT activists, city leaders and Portland residents gathered for Sunday evening’s vigils. The streets were filled with songs, hugs and flickering candles.

“We are down here… to talk about coming together in the wake of a horrible tragedy,” Anne Frye said. “It’s important that the community knows we talked about love.”

Many said they hope Portland’s vigils bring hope to the community and encourage others to look out for each other, especially with Pride Week beginning Monday.

Hundreds of people attended vigils in Portland following an Orlando nightclub shooting that left 50 dead. (KOIN)
Hundreds of people attended vigils in Portland following an Orlando nightclub shooting that left 50 dead. (KOIN)

“What we’ve seen tonight is a beautiful illustration or example of everyone coming together,” pastor Jennifer Yocum said. “Out of this devastation, create a moment of beauty and a moment of togetherness and peace… light is greater than the darkness and light will help us overcome our grief and our sorrows.”

Acting Portland Police Bureau Chief Donna Henderson told the crowd of hundreds the police force is here to protect the community. The FBI Portland Division says no credible threats have been made to LGBT communities in Oregon.

Mayor Charlie Hales says the state flag at City Hall will be taken down and replaced with a rainbow flag to honor the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Leaders from across Oregon shared their thoughts on the shooting:

“My heart, and the hearts of all Portlanders, goes out to everyone affected by the tragedy in Orlando. It is shocking, horrifying, unacceptable; we must stand together in support of our LGBTQ communities.

“Next week is Portland’s Pride Parade and Festival. I’m calling on all Portlanders to hold our LGBTQ community close, and come out in a show of force against terrorizing people because of who they love.” – Mayor Charlie Hales

The governor ordered flags in Oregon flown at half-staff through sunset on Thursday.

“Tragically, what we are waking up to in the United States today is that the growing number of mass shootings in the U.S. increases the number of Americans with a personal connection to a Roseburg, a Charleston, a Columbine, and now, an Orlando.

“Two days ago I participated in Umpqua Community College’s commencement exercises just nine months after 10 lives were lost in a mass shooting on its Roseburg campus. As we celebrated UCC students reaching a major milestone, we also honored the community’s resiliency.

“I call upon us as a state to move beyond the political debate about gun control and instead bring responsible gun owners and community advocates together to find solutions. We must take action to better protect community safety.

“My thoughts are with the victims in Orlando, their loved ones and families, and I extend my sincere gratitude to the first responders. As Oregonians, we share in the pain and mourning reverberating across the United States and world today.” – Governor Kate Brown

Acting PPB Chief Donna Henderson assigned extra patrols to the downtown Portland entertainment district even though there are no known threats to the city. The extra patrols will specifically be in the areas surrounding popular bars and nightclubs frequented by the LGBTQ community.

Extra patrols will also be seen during Portland Pride Week.

“This is really tragic and sad. Reverence for all human life is the essence of Islamic teaching. This is a time for prayers and efforts to stop such senseless violence in our nation. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims.” – Dr. Mirza Luqman, President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Portland chapter

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