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Were hispanics targeted in the Orlando shootings?

Posted: 8:17 AM, Jun 15, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-15 19:51:21-04

People in the LGBT community are shocked and saddened a gay nightclub was the target of terrorism. Now, another community group is speaking out, worried about their safety in the future.

Days after 49 people were killed during Hispanic night at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the hashtag #SomosOrlando ("We Are Orlando" in English) has taken off on social media to unify the Hispanic community and the LGBT community as they grieve the loss of life.

"We're still kind of numb," Benjamin Flecha said. "We're in a state of shock."

This recent tragedy is raising many questions in southwest Florida for Flecha and others in the Hispanic community.

Flecha says he's distraught someone would attack the LGBT community, but wonders if it's more than a coincidence the shooting happened on Latin Night at the club.

"Why were Hispanics targeted? It's sad because the day they're celebrating our culture, a tragedy like this happens."

Flecha says he's shocked Omar Mateen, the suspected shooter, could kill dozens of people after once being on the FBI's watch list.

"They said they interviewed this young man. I think there was 3 or 4 previous interviews so there must have been signs of his background so could more have been done?"

Flecha is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the pastor of a local church, is someone that community members look to for answers, he says, he doesn't have right now.

"I've had a couple of phone calls and people approach me concerned," Flecha said. "You know, it happened in Orlando, it can happen here."

He says its a fear he's hoping never becomes reality but is prepared for the possibility either way.

"We're going to talk about what can we do or what are the steps necessary that we should take here in Lee county if something like this were to happen."

Pastor Flecha says he will be meeting with other members of the chamber as well as religious leaders locally to talk about things they can do now to protect our community for an uncertain future.