Special coverage: LA reacts to Orlando shooting

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(LA Pride Festival photo by Jenny Hamel)

Updated: June 13

Forty-nine people were killed and at least 53 wounded in an attack at a gay club in Orlando early Sunday morning. This is the deadliest mass shooting in US history. The gunman, 29-year-old Omar Mateen claimed allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call from the club.

NPR has updates on the shooter, here.

NPR has updates on the victims, here.

In a statement Sunday, President Obama said:

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.”

There was heightened police presence and security in Los Angeles for Sunday’s LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood.

In Santa Monica, police arrested a man who said he was heading to the festival with car full of weapons, ammunition and chemicals that could be used in an explosive device. The suspect was identified as James Howell of Indiana. Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks tweeted that Howell had intended to “harm” the gay pride event, but later said the comments were inaccurate and that he was going to the festival, but he hadn’t stated his intent.

Officials said there is no connection between Howell and the attack in Orlando.

KCRW spoke to NBC Network news Investigative Reporter Andrew Blankstein about Howell and some of the confusion surrounding his arrest.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who walked the parade route Sunday told KCRW “I think it was a place of a lot of love at a moment when we needed it.”

Garcetti said that there were no credible threats in Los Angeles today, and underlined the need for better gun control laws in America.

Organizers of LA Pride almost cancelled the event after Howell was arrested in Santa Monica, however the festival continued and the parade continued through West Hollywood, where many expressed solidarity with those killed in Florida.

LA resident Rachel Schlosser told KCRW that the shooting at the Orlando gay club made her more committed to attending LA Pride. “Because the most important thing you can do when members of your community are attacked is to experience joy and celebrate as a member of that community,” said Schlosser, “It’s affirming and it shows strength.”

Gregg Brevoort, who was at the pride parade with his husband, said they’ve been going to pride for “years and years,” but considered staying home this year after hearing the news of the shooting, and about the Santa Monica arrest.

However, “you’ve got to keep going and live proudly and out there, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Brevoort said. “We have a lot of work to do, it could have been any group.” 

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