Fort Wayne Pride Plans Ahead Following Orlando Shooting
In the aftermath of the mass shooting that killed 50 people and wounded others at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday morning, Fort Wayne Pride is reacting and evaluating security measures for their future events.
Nikki Fultz is the director of Fort Wayne Pride. She was on her way to Orlando with her wife and kids in celebration of their anniversary on Sunday as news of the attack developed.
She says the family plans to visit the Pulse nightclub soon.
“We were hoping later on today to go down toward the nightclub and pay our respects," said Fultz. "It seems like people are solemn, but we’re at Disney so I think people are still here enjoying themselves.”
Fultz says security will be tight at Fort Wayne’s Pride festival next month, but that’s not out of the ordinary for this event.
“We’ve always actually taken security quite seriously, just because we always know that this is a possibility," she said. "So, we have dozens of trained police officers who spend the course of two days helping out at our festival.”
Fultz says there will be a slight increase in security at the Fort Wayne Pride festival this year. She also says there are plans to honor Orlando’s victims.
2,500 miles west of the Pulse nightclub, the Pride parade in Los Angeles went on as planned, but not without a threat of its own.
20-year-old Indiana resident James Wesley Howell was found near the parade with what Santa Monica law enforcement called a “small arsenal” of weapons in his car. Howell told police he “wanted to harm” the event. He is not currently considered to be connected to the Orlando shooting.
Fultz says knowing the suspect hails from Indiana hits too close to home.
“To think that Indianapolis’s Pride was just yesterday and that that individual could have chosen that Pride, or waited for any other Pride in that area, and that’s scary,” she said.
Despite Sunday’s events, Fultz says she’s confident in the support Pride has seen from Fort Wayne over the years.
“We’ve been very blessed to have such a great local community that has really stood behind Pride all these years, and we hope that that continues,” said Fultz.
A vigil will be held tonight at the Allen County Courthouse in downtown Fort Wayne, with speakers from both the LGBT and Muslim communities in solidarity. The vigil begins at 7pm.