‘Only antidote is love:’ Vancouver reacts to Orlando shooting
Following the worst mass shooting in modern American history, Metro Vancouver communities came together to honour the victims and their families.
At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured after an armed gunman opened fire at the crowded Pulse Orlando gay nightclub early Sunday.
The suspect was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American citizen from Florida who had worked as a security guard. He was killed during a shootout with law enforcement. FBI agent Ronald Hopper confirmed that Mateen had been on the radar of the FBI since 2013.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the shooting speaks to a bigger issue of unrest in society.
“In Vancouver we’re very inclusive and we’ve worked very hard on diversity and supporting people regardless of what they believe or who they love. And our hearts go out to Orlando and the LGBTQ community who’s no doubt suffering the worst of this,” Robertson.
Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson said he was initially numb, then felt “shock and horror” when he learned about the shooting.
“I’ve been out in the gay liberation movement for 40 years now and although one never expects anything like, we know there is a good deal of hatred in our society,” he told CTV News. “It’s certainly lessened over the years but there are people who wish us ill and would like us either to be dead or to be back in the closet.”
Michelle Fortin of the Vancouver Pride Society said the shooting is an opportunity for all communities to stand together.
“People in our city feel like we can speak out quite loudly and quite proudly, and we can speak out for those who can't,” she said.
President Barack Obama called the shooting an "act of terror" and an "act of hate." Coun. Stevenson said it’s important that people don’t respond to hate crimes with fear because of “one crazed homophobic individual.”
“The only antidote we have is love,” Stevenson said. “Accepting diversity, accepting who one wishes to love. Accepting love.”
Vancouver Pride organized a candlelight vigil to honour the victims and their families for 8 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery and New West Pride organized a gathering for 7 p.m. at the rainbow crosswalk on Columbia at Church.
With files from the Associated Press and CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald