Tulsans Hold Vigil For Orlando Shooting Victims; Nightclub Owners Discuss Safety

Sunday, June 12th 2016, 10:13 pm
By: News On 6

In light of the massacre in Orlando, now being called the deadliest shooting in U.S. history and being investigated for ties to ISIS, there are new questions regarding nightclub security across the nation.

Locally, Tulsa police are beefing up patrols and club owners say they'll be taking another look at their security measures.

A vigil was held in Tulsa on Sunday to remember the Florida victims – more than 50 killed and nearly 60 injured at last report.

6/12/2016 Related Story: 50 Dead In Worst Mass Shooting In U.S. History

Members of the LGBT community say the shooting may have happened in Orlando, but it could have happened anywhere – so they are standing together.

So many lives gone.

It's a story that plays out over and over.

And the sadness sticks.

"It's gut wrenching to wake up look at your phone and the first story you see on Facebook is  there is another act of gun violence, and this time it's toward the LGBT community,” Rev. Geoffrey Brewster said.

6/12/2016 Related Story: Names Of Orlando Mass Shooting Victims Slowly Released

Reports say the gunman walked inside the Pulse nightclub and opened fire.

Tulsa club Area 18 owners Shannon Mendenhall and Laura Luster say you can't prepare for that kind of violence.

"You really just have to find out more details on the situation to see if there was anything they could have done differently,” Mendenhall said.

For many people in the LGBT community, bars like Area 18 are safe places where people accept you for who you are.

These tragic events put the possibility of danger into perspective.

"I think that's one of the first things you think about when you hear there's been a shooting at a club, and it really heightens your level of responsibility,” Luster said. “You realize how strong your obligation is."

6/12/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Police Take Precautions To Protect LGBT Community; Vigil Planned

Right now, there are bouncers at the club and people who keep an eye out for problems, but there could be more security measures soon.

“It's definitely making me think maybe we need to add an armed guy here or in the parking lot or outside to just for our patrons’ safety,” Mendenhall said. “I think that's something we may be adding here."

While America continues to mourn the latest tragedy, advocates say this:

"There's never a time when gunning down somebody for who they are and who they love is OK,” Brewster said.

The ONE Gas building lit up in rainbow colors on Sunday night in a show of support as the vigil was underway in the Brady District.

Tulsa police say there are no known threats right now, but if you see or hear of anything suspicious, call police.