As law enforcement agencies try to piece together what happened Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando, when at least 50 people were gunned down, many in South Florida wonder about security and how to protect themselves and those they love from similar attacks.
"Every time there is a pride event, there is that fear that exists, especially since we have seen the passage of marriage equality," says Cindy Brown, Miami-Dade development officer for Equality Florida, the largest LGBTQ rights advocacy group in the state.
"So many people feel that they are much freer to express their hatred. This is a fear that many of us have lived with," says Brown.
LGBTQ activists are not the only ones expressing concern. Owners of South Florida food and beverage establishments are concerned because security can be tricky at local bars and clubs. "Short of having a gun turret in the front of your establishment aimed at the people entering, just in case someone pulls a gun, there’s very little to do," says a local owner who asked not to be identified because of safety concerns.
"It could happen anywhere, you know. Miami and Orlando are similar in that they rely on tourism and people going out and having a good time, and when they come to those cities, they’re spending money to enjoy themselves, but it really could happen anywhere," says the local business owner.
Cities like Miami Beach are tackling the concern by increasing patrols around establishments frequented by the LGBT community, a measure announced Sunday by Mayor Philip Levine and Chief of Police Daniel J. Oates.
— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) June 12, 2016
But even with the promise of increased police presence, many South Florida establishments are opting for extra security.
It is a half-way solution that doesn't satisfy anybody.
"I know that there have been situations in some clubs where they actually bring patrons through metal detectors and have searches happen,'' says Cindy Brown. "You know, this isn't the kind of community that we want to live in."