As word of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, spread, leaders and organizations throughout the D.C. area offered their condolences and messages of hope.
Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement hours after 50 people were killed and 53 others injured by a single gunman early Sunday morning. Bowser said security measures at Capital Pride Festival events would be increased.
“This morning, our hearts are heavy after hearing about the tragedy in Orlando. Just yesterday, we held the annual Capital Pride Parade, a celebration of the rich diversity and contributions of the LGBTQ community in the District of Columbia,” Bowser said. “Ahead of today's Capital Pride Festival, I have been briefed by MPD Chief Cathy Lanier about increased security measures. Today as always, we will not be deterred by hate as we gather to celebrate love.”
Orlando's police chief said the shooting at the Pulse club is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the death toll at Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 people were killed and 17 others wounded.
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A moment of silence was held at the beginning of the Capital Pride concert at the U.S. Capitol.
The Human Rights Campaign -- the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization -- lowered its flag to half mast after reports of the shooting.
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HRC President Chad Griffin said, “We are devastated by this tragic act of violence, which has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 50 LGBTQ people and allies and injured more than 50 others. We are grieving for the victims and our hearts are broken for their friends, families, and for the entire community. This tragedy has occurred as our community celebrates pride, and now more than ever we must come together as a nation to affirm that love conquers hate.”
The Metropolitan Police Department said it is increasing police presence at Capital Pride events on Sunday.
Marland Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honor of the victims and released the following statment:
“The First Lady and I are shocked and saddened by the senseless violence this morning at a nightclub in Orlando. We offer our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of the innocent victims of this act of terror, and our deepest gratitude to the first responders and law enforcement who responded to this tragedy with bravery and courage.
“I have reached out to Florida Governor Rick Scott to express our support during this time. The State of Maryland is ready and willing to provide any assistance needed. Governor Scott has called for a moment of silence and prayer at 6:00 PM today for the victims and their loved ones. I urge everyone in Maryland to join in Governor Scott’s call for unity and prayer.”
The Baltimore Police Department said it is reaching out to the city's LBGT community to discuss concerns and safety after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida.
The police department said in a statement Sunday that it is offering its "heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those affected by this evil act of violence."
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society condemned the tragic and horrific Orlando mass shooting and rejected any possible motive for this terrible act, whose perpetrator is still being investigated as a possible hate crime, mentally unbalanced individual, and/or lone wolf terrorist sympathizer.
They expressed their thoughts, prayers, and condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured.
They also appreciated the Orlando Muslim community's response in condemning the attack and joined them in urging the entire Muslim community to take part in a blood donation drive for those injured in the attack.
The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, also condemned the shooting, releasing this statement:
"Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center expresses its horror over the mass shooting which took place at a nightclub in Orlando, FL overnight, and offers its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and prays for quick recovery for those who were injured. The shooting, where over 50 were killed and at least the same number were injured, is an affront to all minorities. DAH stands firmly against all forms of violence committed against any group, regardless of religious affiliation, creed, color, or sexual orientation. “We join the world today in mourning this tremendous loss of life as we pray for the speedy recovery of those injured, both physically and emotionally. These events augment the need for an environment of tolerance while encouraging and enhancing the treatment of emotionally unstable individuals, and increasing preemptive efforts in keeping firearms out of their hands.” said Imam Johari Adbdul-Malik, Outreach Director. The right to live free from violence, harassment or intimidation is the most basic human right and must be defended unconditionally."
A number of blood drives will be held across the D.C. area for the victims of the nightclub shooting.
The blood drives will be held at the following locations:
E Street Blood Donation Center
2025 E Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
June 13 from noon until 7 p.m.
Rockville Blood Donation Center
11820 Parklawn Drive
Rockville, Md. 20852
June 13 from noon until 7 p.m.
Alexandria Chapter House
123 North Alfred Street
Alexandria, Va. 22314
June 13 from 1:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Fairfax Blood Donation Center
2720 Prosperity Avenue
Fairfax, Va. 22031
June 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.