Thousands Attend Philly Vigil for Victims of Orlando Massacre

Around 2,000 people, including Mayor Jim Kenney, gathered at Philadelphia's City Hall Monday night to mourn the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

The event, organized by Philadelphia’s LGBT community, began at the northeast corner of City Hall around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Early Sunday, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire at the crowded Pulse Nightclub, a gay club in Orlando. Police say 49 victims died and 53 were wounded. Mateen also was killed. Akyra Murray, 18, a high school basketball star at Philadelphia’s West Catholic Prep, was identified as the youngest reported victim of the shooting. Murray's teammates at West Catholic led mourners in a march around City Hall during Monday's vigil and chanted, "West Catholic lives for Akyra!"

"You can't keep crying but you do want her to know we love her," said Angelia Gibson Ayers, a friend of Akyra's. "We're going to miss her."

Ayers brought her phone with her so that Akyra's mother, who is currently in Orlando, could see the vigil.

"She wanted to be face-timed in just to see what's going on," Ayers said. "She's also in the hospital with her niece who was also shot."

Mayor Kenney, who says he watched Akyra play basketball, fought back tears as he spoke about her and the other victims during the vigil.

"Make sure we grab a hold of each other," Kenney said. "Hold on to each other and we'll get through this all together. Love you all."

Gov. Tom Wolf on Sunday ordered U.S. and Pennsylvania state flags at the Capitol complex, commonwealth facilities and public buildings in the state lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims. Late Monday night, Philadelphia's Cira Centre lit up in rainbow colors to also honor the victims.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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