Candlelight vigil held in Omaha for shooting victims

Posted at 11:34 PM, Jun 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-13 00:46:22-04

The glow of candles lit up Memorial Park Sunday evening as people in the metro gathered to remember those who died in the mass shootings in Orlando claiming the lives of at least 50 people.

Thousands of miles away from the Pulse night club in Orlando, people in Omaha watched the attack on television.

“We had a slaughter on our hands in Orlando and it's a pretty horrific event,” said Rev. Royal Carleton, pastor of the Inclusive Life Center.

Carleton said a terrorist didn’t just attack the gay community, but all American citizens.

“We need more peace, we need more love, and we need more compassion, this is a time for us to build bridges, not tear them down, it's time for us to come together as a people and stand together and make a statement that violence of any kind against any people will not be tolerated,” said Carleton.

Omaha native Marie Roubidoux lives in Orlando and has visited the bar with friends before, “For something of this magnitude to happen 20 minutes away from where I live, a mile away from where I go downtown, friends that were there, friends that go there all the time, yeah it's heartwreching honestly”.

One of Roubidoux’s friends was working at the club Saturday night.

“He posted on Facebook saying that he's safe, he really didn't want to answer any messages, he's coping, he lost some of his friends,” said Roubidoux.

The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen called 911 from the club and professed allegiance to ISIS. His father told reporters he believes his son’s hatred of gay people motivated the attack, saying his son became angry when he saw two men kissing last month.

That revalation is troubling to Omaha-area gay rights advocates like Christina Arellano.

“That is one of the hardest things to try and explain the thoughts or patterns for somebody who is capable of this kind of tragedy,” said Arellano.

Arellano is the president of Heartland Pride, currently organizing events for gay pride week which starts towards the end of the month.

“We are going to come together and we are going to become stronger and we're going to be louder and we're probably going to be out there any more than we were before, because of situations like this,” said Arellano.

“At our worst, we kind of do our own thing on our own schedule at our best we come together as a community and we do that very quickly,” said Carleton.

Heartland pride’s first event takes place this coming Friday and Arellano says for all events, security will be ramped up because of these horrific attacks to keep everyone safe.