In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk has asked Chicago FBI officials to ensure security at the city's Pride Parade.
Kirk sent a letter Wednesday to FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge David W. Paun asking that the bureau's Chicago field office have a plan in place to ensure the safety of the 750,000 expected to be in attendance for the June 26 parade.
“Given the importance of the LGBT community to my constituency in Chicago, Illinois, I want to make sure that you and your team in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago field office offer the maximum security possible so that, in the wake of the Orland massacre, we can have the safest Pride Parade ever,” Kirk wrote.
“I want you to ensure that the FBI is coordinating with both local law enforcement and the community,” Kirk added.
Kirk also directed Paun to liaise with Brian C. Johnson, the CEO of Equality Illinois, to “coordinate a strong message of safety to all attendees.”
FBI officials responded to Kirk's call Wednesday, claiming the bureau was working with the Chicago Police Department to ensure safety at the parade.
"The safety and security of the people of Northern Illinois is our top priority and we work hand-in-hand with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention," a statement from the FBI read. "In that light, we urge the public to report any and all suspicious activity to the FBI or are any of our partners.”
Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse Orlando, a popular gay dance club, killing 49 people and leaving 53 more wounded, police said. The shooting is being called the worst in the country’s history.
Kirk responded to the attack Sunday, mourning victims and calling for action against ISIS.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this hateful terrorist act that targeted the Orlando gay community,” Kirk said in a statement. “Gunman Omar Mateen’s motivations remind us of the immediate threat the Islamic State poses to our counrty and the need for swift action to protect Americans from future attacks here at home.”
Later on Sunday, an Indiana man who intended to go to Los Angeles’ Pride Parade was found with assault rifles, high capacity magazines, ammunition and chemicals to make explosives in his vehicle.
James Howell was arrested hours after the tragic shooting in Orlando. According to Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, Howell told one of her officers “of wanting to do harm to the gay pride event.”
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Howell was charged with a litany of crimes Tuesday, including unlawful possession of an assault weapon and a destructive device on a public street, and manufacturing or importing a large magazine and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Howell pleaded not guilty to the charges and was ordered a bail of $2 million Tuesday, NBC Southern California reported.