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Canadian officials offer condemnation and sympathy after Florida mass shooting

Ray Rivera, left, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend, outside of the Orlando Police Department after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at the nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.
Image Credit: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP
June 12, 2016 - 11:30 AM

Canadian political leaders and members of the LGBTQ community expressed shock and outrage over a mass shooting on Sunday that killed at least 50 people and injured dozens of others at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Candlelight vigils to mourn the victims were planned in several Canadian cities Sunday night, including Toronto and Vancouver.

A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. He was shot and killed by police.

The attack came during Pride month, both in the U.S. and Canada.

The executive director of Pride Toronto, a not-for-profit with the goal of bringing together the city's LGBTQ community, said the massacre was a grim reminder of the setbacks his community faces.

"It reminds us that hate and discrimination are still a big part of this society, and that because of this, some of our brothers and sisters this morning lost their lives," Mathieu Chantelois said on Sunday.

The organization also organizes Toronto's pride month, and Chantelois said Pride Toronto was already working with city police and the RCMP but would see if there were any additional security steps that could be taken.

"The main objective of Pride is to create a safe space for our community to gather together and feel comfortable," he said.

A manager at a prominent Toronto gay bar said the massacre likely won't prompt his establishment to increase security at the club.

"You can't live in fear because of one incident," said Cameron Rennie, a manager and bartender at Woody's in Toronto.

Prime Minsiter Justin Trudeau offered Canada's condolences to the victims.

"While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is appalling that as many as 50 lives may have been lost to this domestic terror attack targeting the LGBTQ2 community," he said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay, wrote on Twitter that her thoughts are with the LGBTQ community while B.C. Premier Christy Clark tweeted that she is "incredibly saddened by the evil brutality" of the Florida shooting, and that her province "stands united with (Orlando) against terror and hate."

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has announced that the city will fly the rainbow flag at City Hall in solidarity with the LGBT community.

Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the opposition, wrote in a Facebook post that "we must remain steadfast and strongly condemn terrorism, in all its forms, around the world."

—With files from Morgan Lowrie in Montreal, and The Associated Press.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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