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Orlando prays for strength, honors victims in vigil

Posted at 11:05 PM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 04:23:12-04

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With candles held up high and LGBT pride colors shining throughout Downtown, church bells rang 49 times in a moment of silence. Each ring represented a life lost in an act of terror at Pulse Nightclub.

RELATED: Special section | Photos of victims | Pictures from the scene

"As a mother I'm hurting for all the mothers. I can't even imagine what they must have gone through not knowing if their child was okay or not," said Elizabeth Pimentel, who says her daughters have been to Pulse.

Thousands gathered at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Downtown. Community members held flags, signs, and flowers to show their unity.

"They attacked right at the heart of us and it's just not fair," said Freedanchy Ruiz of Orlando.

Ruiz lost one of her close friends Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33. She was supposed to be with him that night at Pulse.

"We were going to go together. My mom called me because she was worried because she knows I always go to that club," said Ruiz.

Several speakers spoke of the strength this will bring Orlando. Others fighting to stop gun violence also spoke of the need for some kind of gun reform.

"Enough of the shootings in malls, movies, and churches, and schools and nightclubs. Enough," said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Each of the shooting victim's name was read out loud. People cried and hugged, but they also smiled. Orlando locals were told loud and clear to be strong and fight hate with love.

"I hope we can put aside the religion and we all can come together and maybe learn from each other," said Amal Mahamoud, a member of the local Muslim community.

A prayer service will be held at First Baptist Orlando Tuesday at 7 p.m.