Orlando shooting hits close to home for Raleigh LGBT community

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Orlando shooting hits close to home for Raleigh LGBT community
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People came to mourn the victims at a vigil in downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The tragedy in Orlando has hit home for many in the Triangle.

"I lost three of my best friends of 35 years today and I don't know how to wrap my head around that," said Raleigh resident Derrick Brown at a vigil for the victims Sunday.

Brown left work to grieve at the candlelight vigil outside of Legends nightclub, a gay bar in Raleigh. Brown is like many others at the vigil trying make sense of why the alleged gunman, Omar Mateen, attacked a gay night club in Orlando - killing 49 people and injuring dozens.

Read more about the shooting.

Brown said his friends traveled from New York City to Orlando so they could celebrate LGBT Pride month.

The group ended up at Pulse nightclub where the shooting occurred.

"It was supposed to be salsa dancing," Brown explained. "They just wanted to go hang out and have fun."

But their fun ended in tragedy.

Read more: Orlando turning to love despite struggling with grief.

"I sent text messages to each of their phones and only one of them got back to me." Brown said he learned from the surviving friend that the rest were dead.

"It just scares the heck out of me that I could die just because of who I am. We're all human, just a little love, kindness and understanding, empathy. I am my brother's keeper."

Here is the latest list of victims in the shooting.

Flags at the state capitol, Raleigh City Hall, and the Wake County Justice Center are flying at half-staff for the victims.

A vigil was held Monday at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. Vigil organizers said the mass shooting affects them personally.

"When you wake up and realize people who are like you were targeted and murdered because of hate, that's a huge thing to wake up to and try to process and deal with," said Reverend Nancy Petty, Pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship also held a gathering in Durham.

"Nightclubs have historically been a place where LGBT folks can gather in safety for support and to have an attack like this it causes concern. It's an attack on everyone's dignity, everyone's sense of safety," said Shawn Long with Equality NC.

LGBTQ Center of Durham plans a vigil Tuesday at 8 p.m. at The Bar at 711 Rigsbee Avenue in Durham.

The Town of Chapel Hill also announced Monday evening that it would have a "Community Gathering of Solidarity" to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Carrboro Town Commons.

"The event will allow us to grieve, to lift one another up and to demonstrate that we are, indeed, stronger when we stand together," said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, in a statement.

Sandhills Pride is holding a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Pinehurst Village Green.



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