Houstonians gather in Montrose to honor Orlando victims

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The Montrose Center hosted a vigil Monday night to honor the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

The Montrose Center hosted a vigil Monday night to honor the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53 more. A Houston man was in the crowd when the shooting started at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning, but he was in the main dance room near an exit and was able to quickly escape.

Gil De Souza said one of his friends was in the bathroom and was shot three times.

"I texted him a very brief message, because I was on the phone with him for maybe ten seconds," De Souza said. "I could hear he was sobbing a little bit. He said, 'I'm okay.' It was just silence after that. He hung up the phone."

"A friend of ours that was with him, we didn't hear from her -- we didn't know if she was okay and they were together. So I asked him y'all okay? Are you safe? And he just replied yes, and that was the last time I heard from him."

PHOTOS: Orlando vigils around the world

De Souza said his friend was later treated and released at a hospital. He declined to identify his friend, citing privacy concerns. De Souza also knew one man who did not survive. Juan Ramon Guerrero and his boyfriend were killed in the attack.

All day long on Monday, volunteers and staff members at The Montrose Center created hundreds of rainbow and black ribbons for people to wear as a public sign of solidarity.

"We're all in this battle together. We all have a stake. We all have an interest in helping each other. 'Cause that's when we're going to make it," said Richard Gamez, as he twisted strands of ribbon together. "That's my belief."

The news of the attack deeply hurt both Gamez and Jasmine Clark, who said she was shocked by the news.

VIDEO: Sunday vigil in Hermann Park
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A large crowd gathered in Hermann Park Sunday evening to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting.

"Children lost their parents. Parents have to bury their children. It's something that happened over one person's selfish, you know, actions," she said.
Earlier in the day, interfaith leaders hosted a news conference, condemning the violence and calling for unity.

"The term Islamic terror is a misnomer for there is nothing Islamic or religious about murdering innocent people," said M.J. Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

"United Methodists believe that all persons are of immeasurable worth because they are created by God and loved by Jesus Christ," said Rev. Dianne McGehee, who is with the Texas Annual Conference United Methodist Church.

The Montrose Center received calls all day long from people wanting to know how to help. People were encouraged to make a donation or show a public sign of support through ribbons or social media pictures. The center and interfaith leaders are also working on a local blood drive to help.

Related Topics:
vigilgun violenceHouston

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