NZ vigils planned for US shooting victims

  • 13/06/2016
Sky Tower Auckland
Sky Tower Auckland

Candlelight vigils for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida have been held around the country.

Early on Sunday, local time, 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen stormed a packed gay nightclub with a handgun and AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, fatally shooting 50 people before police killed him. Fifty-three others were wounded, many critically.

It was the worst mass shooting in US history.

NZ vigils planned for US shooting victims

A vigil was held tonight in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby

President of the Federation of Islamic Associations, Hazim Arafeh, said the Kiwi Muslim community was "outraged and shocked at this despicable crime."

"We stand alongside all victims and we stand against this appalling violence which must never have any place in our civilised, democratic societies."

The Human Rights Commission has also leant a voice of support to the federation.

"Our response to hatred is humanity, we stand together with Kiwi Muslims in solidarity against homophobia, violence and intolerance," said Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley.

Wellington City Council buildings, as well as Auckland's Sky Tower will be lit in rainbow colours tonight. A vigil in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby attracted crowds of people carrying candles and rainbow flags.

A minute's silence will take place at 141 Gloucester St in central Christchurch at 5:30pm tomorrow evening.

Mateen was born in New York of Afghan descent but spent most of his life in Florida, attending Martin County High School in Stuart, a small city about a 20-minute drive from the Fort Pierce condominium where had most recently lived.