- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2016

Extra security was being put in place at gay pride events around the country Sunday following the deadly attack on the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida — with officials in Los Angeles confirming the arrest of a heavily-armed man who told authorities he was in town for the pride parade in West Hollywood, California.

Cities including Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C., were hosting gay pride parades and festivals this weekend as part of annual events organized during LGBT Pride month in June.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed that the Santa Monica police, responding to a report early Sunday of a prowler, arrested a man and found possible explosives, assault rifles and ammunition in his car. The man told authorities he was in town for the pride parade being hosted in West Hollywood, where more than 400,000 attendees were expected.

Mr. Garcetti said there was no known link between the man and the deadly mass shooting in Orlando. Fifty people were killed and 53 injured in the shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse.

Some called for the cancellation of the large-scale pride events scheduled for Sunday, but organizers were adamant about not canceling the events.

“Of course we are grieving and angry and we need to express that. We also need to make sure we don’t allow this hateful incident to silence us,” said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the Los Angeles Times.

Security and staffing already were enhanced for the West Hollywood event, but law enforcement officials were on a heightened alert as a result of the attack in Orlando, Lt. Edward Ramirez told the Los Angeles Daily News.

“The incident could conceivably be duplicated here in the city of West Hollywood,” Lt. Ramirez said. “Our deputy personnel would be looking out for people acting strangely, people who may be carrying weapons or someone who may be acting suspiciously. Those are all things that we would look for when I mention a heightened sense of awareness.”

Authorities are investigating the Orlando shooting as a terrorist attack, and politicians noted the similarities between the nightclub shooting and terrorist attacks carried out on other “soft targets” in Paris.

“This attack is so painfully reminiscent of the terrible attack at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, and other ISIS-inspired attacks in recent years,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. “The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT nightclub during Pride, and, if accurate, that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism.”

News of the deadly attack sent shockwaves through the LGBT community, with organizers at events nationwide offering condolences.

Gay pride block parties being held in Boston on Sunday planned to hold a moment of silence at 4 p.m.

Boston police said additional officers and security protocol will be in place at the block parties as well as at area bars and nightclubs.

“We have several block parties planned for today. We will be increasing presence and security at each event,” Boston Police Department spokeswoman Officer Rachel McGuire said. “We’re increasing our presence in the area of nightclubs and bars as well that have events for the pride weekend.”

In Washington, D.C., where the Capital Pride Festival was underway Sunday, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she had been updated by the city’s police chief about increased security measures being taken.

“Today as always, we will not be deterred by hate as we gather to celebrate love,” Ms. Bowser said.

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