Half-staff flags, bells mark 1 year since Pulse massacre

Craig Rubadoux  FLORIDA TODAY

Church bells will toll throughout t.

They are expected to appear on the floor around 7 p.m., around the same time as the city-wide vigil scheduled at Orlando's Lake Eola Park. It's considered the worst mass shooting in recent US history.

On the first anniversary of the worst mass shooting in modern USA history, officials asked Americans to join in acts of "love and kindness" to honor victims of the three-hour June 12 rampage at the now-shuttered Pulse club, including survivors still reeling from emotional and physical wounds. Gunman Omar Mateen was killed in a shootout with police hours later after storming the club.

"Which means that we have also look at ourselves and what we can do", she said.

The service began what would be nearly 24 hours of solemn remembrances. One-time The Voice contestant Sisaundra Lewis will also perform at the event alongside acts like the Orlando Gay Chorus, the From Broadway With Love Choir, the CFCA Choral Group, the Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums and more. "He was able to go in and kill and maim so many so quickly".

On Monday, the National LGBTQ Task Force, a coalition of 59 organizations, issued a statement in remembrance of the Pulse victims. Gov. Rick Scott ordered US flags around Florida to be flown at half-staff and a gay-pride flag was unveiled at the Orange County government building. Two other services - one midday and a late-night one at the nightclub - will take place along with a gathering in downtown Orlando.

Jose Ramirez who survived the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub visits the site.

Gatherers who lined up Monday to pay tribute were surrounded by volunteers dressed as angels, whose makeshift wings symbolically blocked out any hate, spreading only love and peace.

"The FBI is grateful for the heroic work of the first responders and for the teams of doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly that night to save lives", FBI spokeswoman Andrea Aprea said.

Outside the nightclub, which the owners have turned into a memorial, victims, survivors' families, local officials and club employees gathered for a memorial at 2 a.m., the same time Mateen opened fire on the crowded club.

A runner wearing a gay pride rainbow flag pauses in front of the Pulse nightclub during the CommUNITYRainbowRun 4.9K road race, Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. "I miss everything it stood for".

State and local officials said the attack was a reminder of the undeniable strength of the people of Orlando and of Floridians.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson talked with reporters before a memorial.

In the face of hatred and bigotry, we need love now more than ever.

By the end of the night, more than 1,000 people had gathered to remember what happened last June, when Orlando became the first US city of the summer - before Falcon Heights, Minn., and Baton Rouge and Dallas - to be upended by gun violence.

"It still hurts, it's still very raw", said Erin Anderson, a friend and former co-worker of Pulse victim Xavier Serrano Rosado.

Jeannine Williams used to live within walking distance of Pulse and was a frequent visitor. It's the way the community is.

The city honored the victims of the attack by holding a special "Orlando United Day", a day of "love and kindness" to be celebrated throughout the City Beautiful.

"Let me see your hands!"

Witnesses said the other protester was arrested after pushing on officer.

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