MILWAUKEE -- A vigil was held Sunday, June 12th in Milwaukee to honor the 50 people who lost their lives during a mass shooting at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Sunday was the final day of Milwaukee PrideFest -- and a tribute event was held at 4:00 p.m. at Maier Festival Park, which included a moment of silence for the Orlando shooting victims.
Milwaukee PrideFest is a celebration that has been taking place annually since 1996, but it was a somber event Sunday in the wake of the horrific tragedy in Orlando.
"We will now have a minute of silence. Whether we are gay, straight, trans, bi - -whatever our gender or orientation is, we hold together as one community," a prayer leader said.
An American-born man who'd pledged allegiance to ISIS gunned down 50 people early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando -- the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation's worst terror attack since 911, authorities said. The gunman, Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, called 911 shortly before the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official.
Orlando police shot and killed Mateen.
Mateen carried an assault rifle and a pistol into the packed Pulse club about 2:00 a.m. Friday and started shooting, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53, police said.
A tribute for those who lost their lives took place at the Miller Lite Mainstage on the Summerfest grounds. Local prayer leaders asked the crowd to hold hands and pray for the victims.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm were joined on stage by Rep. JoCasta Zamparripa and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
"Extraordinarily easy access to assault weapons. We can change this. We need to change this," Abele said.
"We still march forward with pride, even as we mourn. There`s still so much work to do. We have marriage equality -- but you see there the hatred there that we have to combat everyday as the LGBT community," Zamarripa said.
There was a moment of silence that lasted exactly one minute as the normally loud grounds fell into a deep silence.
LGBT leaders stressed that their community is thinking of the 50 people who lost their lives, along with their family members and friends.
Abele said the best way to honor the victims is to make sure something like this never happens again.
"It's just time to say enough is enough," Chisholm said.
"There is always tragedy and there will always be pain -- and people who choose to inflict pain on others. But there are so many more who rush to help," Tammy Lickelhoff said.
Milwaukee PrideFest continues until 10:00 p.m. Sunday -- with the dance pavilion staying open until midnight.