Ybor City vigil for Orlando draws thousands

Posted at 12:07 AM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 00:14:27-04

"It's not gay, it's not straight, it's human life," Troy Pierce said.

"I'm still processing the fact that it's so close to home. It's really scary," said Rachael Johnson.

Thousands lit candles Monday on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.

"I lost four of my friends, it's unbelievable," Chhoy Sutimek said.

People like Sutimek were holding friends close. Each remembering the last time they saw their friend Eddie Sotomayor, one of the first names released following the tragic shooting.

"I just saw him at gay days last Sunday. We were dancing together, poking fun at each other. It's so unreal that he's gone," Sutimek said.

Gone but not forgotten. Forty-nine candles for 49 victims, spelling out what many felt Monday night. That word was "love."

"We are here together to stand strong, and stand proud, and stand with our families," said one speaker to the crowd.

Families will surely be affected both near and far.

"We know in the days to come that the tragedy in Orlando is gonna impact this community in so many different ways," said another speaker.

But in Tampa on Monday night, thousands of voice sent the message: They stand with Orlando.

"People need to be compassionate, and they need to be loving to each other," Tiffany Mclauchlin said.

Each victim's name was read aloud as the crowd held candles high, a reminder of dreams not yet fulfilled. Dreams friends and family will make sure live on in their memories and hearts.