MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesotans, like the rest of the country, are mourning what is now the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Early Sunday morning, an assailant, identified as Omar Seddique Mateen, opened fire in a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring 53 others. Police later shot and killed Mateen.
On Sunday, many gathered for Golden Valley's first-ever Pride Festival. According to the Census Bureau, Golden Valley has the highest number of LGBT families per capita in Minnesota. Many hearts, however, were heavy.
Beautiful day for Golden Valley's first ever Pride Festival.. But sadness in the air for Orlando victims.. pic.twitter.com/ddPfWz2fP2— John Croman (@JohnCroman) June 12, 2016
"I think the Orlando shooting exemplifies why this sort of event is so important and why the fight for LGBTQ equality is not over," said Kimberly Samberg of the Pride Festival.
"This sort of thing just shouldn't happen in this country. We're better than that," said Golden Valley councilman Larry Fonnest.
OutFront Minnesota held a community vigil in wake of the Orlando shooting. Hundreds gathered at Loring Park in Minneapolis Sunday night to sing, pray and honor those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting.
Mateen reportedly pledged his support to ISIS before carrying out the shooting. On Sunday, the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined the Minnesota Muslim community in condemning the shooting.
"Minnesota Muslims condemn in the strongest possible the mass shooting in Orlando," said Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR. "We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The LGBTQ community has stood with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times. We stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities.
Governor Mark Dayton has ordered flags at all state and federal buildings to fly at half-staff until sunset Thursday as a sign of respect for the Orlando victims. The Interstate 35-W bridge will also be lit in rainbow hues to honor the victims. The Lowry Avenue Bridge will also bit lit the same way.
Governor Dayton has directed MnDOT to light the I35W bridge in rainbow hues through Thursday. pic.twitter.com/PnVuO9FqDo— Kevin Gutknecht (@kggutknecht) June 12, 2016
The Lowry Avenue bridge will be lit rainbow in memory of the Orlando shooting victims pic.twitter.com/5jJ3cQcor7— Hennepin County (@Hennepin) June 13, 2016
"The horrific act of hatred and terror in Orlando was an unfathomable attack upon all of humanity. Our hearts go out to the innocent victims of that heinous assault," Dayton said in a statement.
Other local dignitaries are also offering their thoughts on the Orlando shooting. Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken issued the following statement:
“It is difficult to find words to express my sadness and shock at the horrific shooting in Orlando, and my heart breaks for everyone affected by this heinous act of terror. While we are still learning the details of this tragedy, we do know this: Fifty innocent lives were barbarically taken from families who now have to face the reality of life without a loved one. They were murdered because they were at a gay club by someone with hate in his heart and an assault rifle in his hands. How many tragedies like this does this nation have to endure before we find the moral conviction to do something about gun violence?”
Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison released a similar statement:
“Last night’s horrific shooting in Orlando goes against every sense of humanity. As details continue to be made available, we must keep the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. No religion justifies such a senseless act of terror. All decent people must condemn this hateful act that claimed the lives of 50 people and injured 53 more. Sadly, Orlando has now joined Aurora, Charleston, Newtown, Oak Ridge, and many other communities rocked by gun violence. This is yet another reminder that Congress must pass meaningful, common-sense gun reforms that include a ban on assault weapons, which have no place in civilian hands. Members of Congress must stand up to the NRA. I am grieving with the LGBT community. The community has been a target for hate for decades, but has seen meaningful advances in the past few years. That progress could not be more evident than seeing millions of Americans, gay and straight alike, celebrate LGBT Pride this weekend. This tragedy will not suppress the love and compassion that the LGBT community is centered on. Going forward, we must continue to stand against all hate crimes. No one deserves to be harmed because of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.”
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar released the following statement:
“This is a sad day for Orlando and a sad day for America. Innocent people were slaughtered by a man who was motivated by hate and terror and extremism. I stand with the LGBT community today, and my prayers are with the victims. We must root out terrorism abroad and at home.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau offered the following statement:
"On behalf of the entire MPD, we are sending our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the shootings in Orlando. Along with the rest of the nation and law enforcement community, we grieve with the victim’s families and the people in Florida. The mass shooting that’s occurred is shocking, sad and intolerable. The MPD wants to reassure residents and visitors in our city that we remain vigilant and committed to ensuring people are safe at large scale events with significant crowds. We continue to be in constant communication with our federal partners to make that possible. We stand with and protect all of our citizens in the fight against violence of any kind, including crime driven by hate to instill fear."
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges released this statement:
I am reminded today, as we confront yet another heinous act of gun violence, about the great Stop the Violence Rally and Resource Fair that I attended last weekend at the Cub on West Broadway. It struck me then, as it does again today, that we have endured far too much loss of human life, as a city and as a nation. All this gun violence is preventable.