SoCal residents honor victims of Orlando shooting

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Through hugs and tears, many people gathered across the Southland to honor the lives lost hundreds of miles away in Orlando, yet so close to their hearts. (KABC)

Through hugs and tears, many people gathered across the Southland to honor the lives lost hundreds of miles away in Orlando, yet so close to their hearts.

From West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard to Harvey Milk Park in Long Beach, locals gathered in grief on Monday, united in a show of support.

"I get emotional thinking about it because I think about myself. You know, if I were at that club having a fun time with a friend and, you know, life could change so fast," said Mason Shefa of Studio City.

Orlando police said 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida walked into a gay nightclub around closing time early Sunday morning and opened fire, killing at least 49 and injuring another 53 people.

Mateen was eventually killed during a shootout with SWAT officers. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

In response to the mass shooting, organizers beefed up security at the 46th annual L.A. Pride festival and parade. Although it did go on as scheduled, officials said attendance was down slightly.

Many participating in the parade had home-made signs referencing the attack. Those who did come out said they were determined not to let fear hold them back.

While the focus may have been on remembrance on Sunday, taking action was the call for Monday, in hopes of preventing another tragedy.

David Cooley, owner of the famous West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey, will now have armed guards at his bar.

"Now we are taking extra steps. If that's what we have to do, we are going to do that. Anyone who is coming, they want to feel safe and secure, and that's my goal and my responsibility," he said.

Despite organizers saying attendance was down at the parade, Cooley said they had their biggest showing of attendance that day in the bar's 25-year existence.

"The thing about a gay bar is its like a sanctuary. You know, its like your safe place that you go to, and you know that there are other people like you and no one is going to discriminate against you," said Kassie Thornton of West Hollywood.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center was expected to hold a vigil and rally Monday night at City Hall in downtown L.A.
Related Topics:
newsorlando mass shootingmass shootingshootingu.s. & worldterrorismterror threatisishate crimeWest HollywoodLos Angeles CountyFlorida
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