SIU community pays respect to those killed in Pulse shooting


Ryan Michalesko

Interim vice chancellor for student affairs Lori Stetler reads the names of the Orlando shooting victims Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, during a vigil in Grinnell Hall. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Jesse Robertson

The mood was somber Wednesday night as SIU’s LGBTQ community hosted a vigil to remember the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Members of the LGBTQ and Student Multicultural Resource Center stood in front of about 30 supporters in Grinnell Hall and read aloud the names of the 49 people killed during the June attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

“I had friends who knew victims in the attack and the whole thing makes me deeply saddened,” said Rene Poitevin, coordinator for SIU’s Hispanic/Latino Resource Center. “I thought we were past this as a country.”


Even those not directly affected by the shooting that also injured 53 said it influenced how they live as members of the LGBTQ community.

“It has affected me in so many ways,” said Payton Hargraves a freshman from Sikeston, Mo., studying pre-law. “I cried so much after it happened. It really made me think that we’re not as safe as we should be as a community.”

A common theme throughout the night was support as the group held hands and joined together in song and prayer.

“The attack scared me and made me really think about who we are as a people and a country,” said Liz Flath, a freshman from Grand Rapids, Mich., studying fashion design merchandising.

Shortly after the vigil ended, organizers, mourners and supporters exchanged hugs and smiles.

Poitevin said those lost in the attack would not be forgotten as long as everyone in the community keeps them close to their hearts.


Staff writer Jesse Robertson can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3333.

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