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Commissioner: Orlando police were 'heroic'

ORLANDO, Fla. – The people in the LGBT community are speaking out about the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

News4JAX spoke with Roxy Santiago, the Director of Orlando's LGBT Center.

She says this was a hate crime. 

"It's a sad time for this whole city. To think this happened right in our backyard, lesbians, gays, latinos as well were victimized last night," says Santiago.

When Pulse nightclub was founded, the owner's goal was to create a safe haven for the LGBT community and a place to create an open dialogue.

"I know Barbara and the people who own the facility. Pulse is an awesome place. Everybody comes out there. It's awesome, it's fun, it's exciting. Again, as part of thinking I'm part of the HRC committee here, it's a hate crime to us. That's what I'm feeling. It's unfair. It's unacceptable. We love all people and we're always going to continue to love all people in spite of all this," said Santiago. "I think as far as Orlando, we will move forward and keep Pulse up and coming."

The community is still in need of donations to help first responders who are out on the scene. 

"The center, which is located on Mills Avenue, which is the stepstone for all deliveries, we are accepting daily donations of food, medical supplies, Powerade, candy. We are providing food for the first responders as well as the unitarian church that have got counselors for us. Please keep the donations coming. We are in need of the supply.," says Santiago.

News4JAX also spoke with the first openly gay elected official in Orlando, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

"My comments yesterday, love will conquer hate in all ways. There were 1,500 people in line at the blood bank yesterday to give blood," says Sheehan. 

Sheehan says the Orlando police department was prepared to handle the tragedy.

"They did a great job. There's been some second guessing about how long it took to go, but this was a hostage situation," said Sheehan. "I think the Orlando Police Department did an amazing job."

 

Sheehan said they used an armored vehicle to punch through the wall to frighten the shooter.

 

"They also used an explosive to frighten him and that was enough to distract him enough so more people could get out safely. I'm proud of the Orlando Police Department. They were heroic in their actions yesterday," Sheehan said.

 

Sheehan said all her colleagues were at the scene Sunday and were supportive of law enforcement.

 

"This was a crime against my community. If you can't say LGBT, you can't bring yourself to say that, you shouldn't be out here because this affected the heart of my community," said Sheehan.