Cape Codders Rally to Decry Orlando Nightclub Massacre

Orlando - 2

CCB MEDIA PHOTO: People gather at a vigil in Peg Noonan Park in Falmouth to remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

FALMOUTH –  Vigils seeking an end to the violence were held across Cape Cod Sunday night to remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

In Provincetown, more than 500 filled the plaza in front of Town Hall for a ceremony and then marched to the Boatslip Beach Club for a moment of silence in memory of those who died.

Provincetown State Representative Sarah Peake, Provincetown Selectmen Cheryl Andrews and Reverend Terry Pannell of the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor were among those taking part.

“Fifty people dead. We need to do something about this and this is our call to action,” Peake told the crowd.

Peake also urged those in attendance to contact members of Congress across the country to support legislation that would reign in certain types of gun sales.

Provincetown Community TV’s Rick Alberg said the vigil was organized by Ray Rigoglioso, author of the book, “Gay Men and the New Way Forward and founder of the nonprofit organization Gay Men of Wisdom.

Provincetown Selectman Cheryl Andrews said it’s critical for everyone to come together as one community.

“This is a time not just for gay people, but for all of us that stand for the things that make this country great and give us hope as human beings,” said Andrews.

Authorities are probing the background of Omar Mateen, who police say opened fire on an Orlando, Florida, gay club, killing 50 people and leaving 53 others wounded.

Islamic State radio is calling Mateen ‘one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.’

Matten’s father says his son recently got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami and he says that may have been related to the assault.

At the Provincetown vigil, Reverend Terry R. Pannell from the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor, urged people to practice peace.

“The answer to evil is not evil. It is love. Choose love and let love prevail this day,” said Rev. Pannell.

In Falmouth, a grassroots group of citizens gathered at Peg Noonan Park to honor and remember the victims.

“There have been so many shootings, and as other people were saying, we’ve all become really desensitized to it and I don’t want to be desensitized. I want to do something, I want to make a difference,” said organizer Elyse DeGroot.

Holding signs indicating support for the victims and colors of gay pride, those attending the Falmouth vigil said all communities need to stand strong.

“Talk about your fear, don’t be alone. Know that there is strength and safety in numbers and feel empowered. I think a lot of time our fear is elevated because we feel we can’t do anything about it, but we can do something about it,” said Rev. Mel Fields with the Waquoit Congregational Church.

In remembrance of the Orlando shooting victims a special lighting of the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown will be held later this week. The monument will remain lit Thursday night through the overnight hours until dawn on Friday. The monument usually goes dark at midnight.

Some of the victims of the Orlando, Florida, shooting attack are sharing the horror of what happened inside the gay club early Sunday.

Patron Jon Alamo had been dancing at the club for hours when he wandered into the main room just in time to see the gunman.

He says the gunman held his weapon like a Marine “shooting from left to right.” Alamo says, “My first thought was, oh my God, I’m going to die.”

Patron Eddie Justice texted his mother as he hid in a bathroom, saying, “He’s coming. I’m gonna die.” Justice was killed.

The deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history has changed the focus of the speech scheduled in New Hampshire today by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump originally planned a broad attack on his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, but plans now are for him to further address the shootings. Trump has taken a hard-line stance on Islamic terrorism.

Just hours after the Florida nightclub shooting, police in Southern California, responding to a call about suspicious activity, arrested an Indiana man and found three assault-style rifles and chemicals used to make explosives in his car. James Wesley Howell said he was heading to the LA Pride event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director, with information provided by Rick Alberg of Provincetown Community TV and The Associated Press

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