Casper Residents React to Orlando Shooting

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It's been more than 24 hours now since many found out about the mass shooting in Orlando. It's the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Many Casper residents were shaken and explained how this act not only affects Orlando residents but people here in Wyoming as well.

Casper community member Carl Oleson said, "There are moments that go by from the second I heard about it where I just still sort of randomly break down and cry."

Reverend Dee Lundberg of the United Church of Christ lamented this latest in a string of mass shootings. "You can almost become desensitized to this kind of violence because it's just happening so often," she said.

49 lives were taken in the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub.

"I think he purposely targeted gay people, so in that regard it was an attack on my community," Oleson said.

Many, including Susan Burk, an ally with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, believe this to be an act of terrorism and an attack on homosexuality, as well as on the country.

"Even if it was targeted at a specific group of people, it was an attack on Americans," Burk said.

Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, was responsible for those 49 deaths.

Burk also said, "It's very difficult for me to not hate the person who did this, but that just perpetuates it."

Gay community members say they are aware they can be seen as targets, but it's not stopping them from being themselves. Oleson explained, "We always know that there is a risk of something occurring, but my partner and I both for some years now have realized that you cannot live in fear."

"It's always in the back of your mind that something bad could happen, but you just simply can't let that freeze you," Lundberg said.

"Our hearts are just as broken as today for those same folks who in Orlando,” Oleson siad. “Sadly they have to deal with a burden harder than ours. But we'll be with them in thought and hope and prayer."

A lot of people can relate to Gandhi: "You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

"We need to create a world where people feel safe," Lundberg urged.

Casper area pastor Brenda Frelsi said, "These people are the target today, but our world needs to become much more tolerant, much more loving, a much safer place to be, and I can help be that by standing with them today."

Oleson added, "Love conquers hate. Love conquers fear. Love conquers ignorance."

One Blood is taking blood donations for the Orlando victims. In addition, all government flags will be flown half-staff until sunset Thursday, June 16th.