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Utahns react to deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11

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Posted at 3:01 PM, Jun 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-12 19:35:28-04

UTAH -- The mass shooting at a gay bay in Orlando is considered the deadliest terrorist attack to occur on U.S. soil since 9/11, and as flags across the nation are lowered to half-staff Utahns are reacting to the tragedy and offering their support.

A vigil to honor the victims has been scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Salt Lake City & County Building, 451 South State street, on the east steps.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert echoed President Barack Obama's order to lower flags to half-staff, and the Governor issued this statement:

“Our hearts are broken for those who have lost loved ones, family and friends in this despicable and cowardly attack. As Utahns, we must unite together with those from around the world in love and prayer for our brothers and sisters who are the victims of this terrible tragedy. While there remains many unanswered questions at this time, such violence must be condemned by all of us. The Utah Department of Public Safety continues to be in communication with local and national authorities as more information is obtained.”

Utah Senator Jim Dabakis said he was heartbroken and horrified by the attack.

"I am heartbroken and horrified by what happened. I hope that from this tragic moment will emerge a national and local recognition that all Americans deserve respect and civility under the law."

Congressman Chris Stewart, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, had strong words regarding the need to fight terrorism.

"Once again innocent Americans have suffered a horrendous attack. We can't allow this to become the new normal.

The FBI is investigating the Orlando mass shooting as a terrorist attack. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee I will do everything in my power to ensure that we successfully fight Islamic Terrorism- both at home and abroad.

This attack serves as a reminder that Islamic terrorism is a threat to every community in America. We know Islamic terrorists target Christians, the LGBT community, women and a variety of other groups. They are nothing but evil and they must be stopped. Which is why we as national leaders need to strengthen our national security to prevent future attacks.

I hope you will join me in not only sending our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by today's terrible events, but also join me in seeking ways to bolster our security at home and abroad."

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said that no matter the motivation, the shooting is a "monstrous act" they denounce in every respect.

“We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the tragedy of today's shooting in Orlando. We express our deepest sympathies to those who have lost family and friends in this despicable act of terror and cowardice.

“Regardless of whether this massacre of innocent lives was motivated by radical terrorist ideology, hatred toward the LGBTQ community or any other reason, it was a monstrous act that we denounce in every respect.

“As a caution, we cannot allow this horror to fuel reactive and displaced blame toward peaceful and law-abiding Muslim members of our communities. Rather, we should rally together as Americans and as human beings to unitedly offer our prayers and support for families of victims. With one voice, we must loudly decry violence and hatred toward fellow human beings of any race, religion or sexual orientation.

“My office has offered, if it is needed, the full resources of the Utah Attorney General's investigative division to help our law enforcement colleagues in Florida.”

Troy Williams of Equality Utah said they won't allow the actions of "one madman" to stop a message of solidarity and love.

"Our hearts are breaking today. Our love goes out to our LGBTQ family in Florida. We will not allow the actions of one madman to send us cowering back in the closets. We will stand united in strength, love and solidarity."

Zuhaib Alam, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, said the Muslim community in Utah stands with their fellow Americans in condemning anyone who commits such violence.

"On behalf of Utah Muslims we condemn this barbarous attack in Florida and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community stands with our fellow Americans in condemning anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such senseless violence which has no place in our religion or in our society. “Any act of violence against innocent people is an act of violence against all of humanity”. These are the very teachings of the Quran. In the words of the late Muhammad Ali, 'I am a Muslim, and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people. True Muslims know the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.'"

Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City's first openly gay mayor, said the act of violence impacts not just one community, but society as a whole.

"This morning my heart is heavy with grief. While we don’t yet know all the details of the tragedy unfolding in Orlando, it is an unspeakable act of violence--not only against one class of people, or one city, but against society as a whole.

As a mayor charged with keeping a city safe, I can’t help but feel we are failing to address a societal ill, one where a person can senselessly kill so many with nothing more than a motive and a gun--and that we fail to learn lessons from these repeated tragedies.

I am very grateful to the heroes of law enforcement who responded, put themselves in harm's way, and undoubtedly saved lives.

As an openly gay woman, I can’t help but view this tragedy as an attack on all people who identify as LGBTQ --a hate crime perpetrated to silence our community during the month of Pride, a time when we openly celebrate who we are and the joy of self acceptance.

As a mother, I am simply heartbroken, devastated at the thought of the family and friends who have lost a loved one in this tragic event and for those who endured injury and the trauma caused by this one individual.

Today my prayers are with the victims of this attack, their loved ones, the City of Orlando, and the entire LGBTQ community. We must learn from this tragedy and resolve to take action to prevent this from happening again. Let us all respond today with peace and acts of kindness. We can make this world a better place to live and we will."

House Democratic Leader Brian King called for greater tools for preventing mass killings.

“Our thoughts and prayers for those killed and injured in Orlando are appropriate today. But the time is far spent for that alone. Not one more life should be lost due to any lack of understanding about how to deal with mass killings in America.

As a state and country we need to provide the resources to make progress on getting the answers to questions about how to reduce the number of mass killings and the lethality of those events. We may need greater mental health resources. Perhaps better regulation of guns or other lethal weapons may be advisable. More effective tools for law enforcement may save lives. New technology may provide a significant benefit. In all likelihood, some combination of these things, together with other measures, is necessary. But let’s make the decision, as a state and nation, to get accurate and unbiased information, and then provide the necessary resources, to decrease the number of mass killings we are experiencing. That’s the way we have dramatically reduced both the number of auto collisions in our country and the lethality of those collisions when they occur. We can and should do the same for mass killings.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement through spokesman Eric Hawkins, which urged for prayer on behalf of the victims and their families.

With the rest of the nation, we mourn the tragic loss of life and serious injuries that occurred in Orlando this morning. We pray for the families and loved ones of the victims of this senseless shooting and pray they will be comforted and cared for as they seek to heal. Our prayers and support are also with community leaders and law enforcement officials as they continue to investigate this shocking crime.

The Salt Lake City Council issued a statement through Chairman James Rodgers, who said:

"Violence aimed at a specific community makes us all a target of hatred," said James Rogers, Salt Lake City Council Chair. “We grieve for those whose loved ones have been killed and injured in this horrific shooting. We cannot and will not let this tragic incident of senseless aggression drive us to cower in a corner when it comes to living our lives peacefully and free of persecution.”

The owners of ClubJAM, a gay bar in Utah, also reacted to the attack, saying gay bars have always been safe spaces for the LGBTQ community where everyone is welcome.

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the senseless and horrific tragedy in Orlando. The safety of our employees and customers is our number one concern and we commit to ensuring our security procedures will protect the safety of everyone at Club JAM. Gay bars have always been safe places for the LGBTQ community, a place where everyone is welcome, open, out & proud and we will continue to be one of those safe places for everyone in our community. ‪#‎LoveWins‬ ‪#‎LoveTrumpsHate‬"

Jeremy Johnson, a Republican challenging Gov. Gary Herbert for the party's nomination, said he was sickened by the tragedy.

"I'm sickened by this tragedy. I honor the brave police officers who risked their lives and selfless patrons who courageously helped each other."

Mike Weinholtz, the Democratic candidate for Utah Governor, said people should focus on what they can do to help.

Donna and I were devastated to hear the terrible news from Orlando, and our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends who are suffering this morning.

While the investigation is underway, it is more important to ask “what can I do to help?” than to rush to conclusions. We should ask ourselves what can we do to help the survivors of this attack, what can we do in our own communities to calm fears, to foster understanding, and to build new relationships based on the American ideal of equality and liberty for all.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson took to Instagram to call for more love, less hate.

View this post on Instagram

My heart is broken for the people of Orlando and for our country. When is enough going to be enough? #prayfororlando

A post shared by Maile Wilson-Edwards (@mailewilsonedwards) on