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Orlando remembers Pulse nightclub shootings on first anniversary

By Ed Adamczyk
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Orlando remembers Pulse nightclub shootings on first anniversary
Orlando, Fla., began a series of memorial events Monday to commemorate the shootings, on June 12, 2016, at the Pulse nightclub. The assault by a lone gunman killed 49 people. Some people gathered at the nightclub Sunday. Photo courtesy of Orlando Police Department/Twitter

June 12 (UPI) -- One year after a gunman opened fire on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the city memorialized the 49 dead Monday and offered support to the survivors.

Family and friends of those killed joined survivors at the site where 49 people died by gunfire on June 12, 2016, for a remembrance closed to the public. The ceremony was timed to 2 a.m. on Monday, the moment when one year ago, Omar Mateen attacked the crowded club, popular with Orlando's gay community; he was killed by police during a 3-hour standoff.

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A noon memorial service and a music-filled evening event at the nightclub were planned Monday, as was an evening gathering in downtown Orlando.

The city declared the day "Orlando United Day -- A Day of Love and Kindness" and is encouraging acts of compassion by its residents.

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A large rainbow flag will be unveiled at the Orange County government headquarters, and city churches will simultaneously ring bells, 49 times, at noon. The Orange County History Center will display artwork collected from memorial sites after the shootings, part of its collection of "nearly 5,000 pieces curated from the numerous memorials established throughout Orange County," the county government website said.

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Some survivors of the attacks said they would not attend any of the commemorative events, saying the emotional impact of the shootings remains strong. Demetrice Naulings, who escaped from the Pulse nightclub but lost a friend in the massacre, told News Talk Florida, "Seeing all of the other people from the club, I'm pretty sure the hugs will be teary. I'm not looking forward to that. I'm not looking for 'I'm sorry.' I feel like that doesn't help me. I feel like that is pity and I don't want pity."

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