Capital City community remembers Orlando shooting victims

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A night after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, a vigil for the victims was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.

A rainbow flag was displayed on the alter, and many attendees wore rainbow buttons or ribbons in support of LGBT in the wake of the massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. that left 50 dead and 53 wounded.

“Charleston is noted as the 10th most compassionate city in the United States by some organizations,” said church rector Marquita Hutchens. “In a show of solidarity for the people who are in such terrific pain in Orlando, we wanted to stand up and say we are with you, we understand and pray for healing.”

Executive Director of WV Free Margaret Chapman-Pomponio, a member of the church, said she attended Monday’s vigil as a way to encourage unity between Christians and Muslims.

“Our church has a deep partnership with the Islamic community, and I was particularly heartened to see the partnership around this,” she said. “We think it’s really important to show inter-faith solidarity in such a crisis.”

The service included several speakers, including Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia Andrew Schneider.

“This was a horrific crime and tragedy; it was an act of hate motivated violence, and we have to address as that,” Schneider said.

Dr. Sameh Asal, imam of the Islamic Association of West Virginia, also spoke.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the shooter’s ties to radical Islamic terrorism after ISIS took credit for the massacre.

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