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Support Rallies for LGBTQ Community after US’s Deadliest Shooting

As people around the country celebrated LGBTQ pride this weekend, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American citizen, opened fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Fifty people were killed at the LGBTQ club Sunday morning, including the shooter, making this hate crime the deadliest shooting in United States history. At least 53 people were wounded.

Armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, Mateen entered the nightclub around 2 am Sunday morning and opened fire. Police attempted to negotiate with the shooter after he took hostages in one of the club’s bathrooms, the New York Times reported. Mateen was said to sound “cool and calm” over the phone.

Around 5 am, police SWAT teams raided the club with an armored vehicle, rescuing those remaining and killing Mateen in a shootout.

During the attack, Mateen reportedly called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS. The shooter was previously investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 after expressing sympathy for a suicide bomber, CNN reports, but the interviews were “inconclusive” and Mateen was not under surveillance at the time of Sunday’s shooting.

The attack is still under investigation, but the FBI reports that Mateen appears to have been self-radicalized, meaning he claimed allegiance to a terror organization but had no direct ties. He may have been inspired by extremist material online.

In the wake of this tragedy, people across the country have gathered to show their support for the LGBTQ community and mourn those who were lost. President Barack Obama spoke Sunday, addressing the country after yet another tragedy, calling for more gun control while reminding everyone of American values.

“This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us, and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country,” said Obama, “The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

On the day of the shooting, many individuals turned to social media to express their hurt from recent events while showing support for the LGBTQ community.

“Today smiling shouldn’t be allowed,” wrote Andrew Bourque, 20, on Facebook. “Is self-pride such a horrible thing? Should celebration be met with terror? Does difference deserve damage?”

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Signs at the Boston Common vigil

Two vigils were held in Boston Sunday night, one in the Boston Common and one outside the Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square, a combined attendance of roughly 450 people.

“It was emotional, but heartwarming, to see that many people together to support such a tragic situation,” said Will Heffernan, 21, who attended the vigil at Trinity Church.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also held a vigil at City Hall Plaza Monday night at 6 pm, while other cities around the country are holding memorial events of their own.

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