SWFL Pride Fest increases security in wake of Vegas shooting

Posted at 6:41 PM, Oct 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-03 18:41:46-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Organizers for Southwest Florida's Pride Fest are increasing security for Saturday's event in the wake of the Vegas mass shooting, calling it an eerie reminder of last year's Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Mel Crawford, President of SWFL Pride was left speechless after learning the news. She tells Fox 4 after initial shock, she felt a familiar pain. Crawford was not in Orlando during the shooting, but says those affected by the Pulse shooting, are especially grieving for Vegas victims and survivors. "It opens up every memory, every American, it opens up that memory for all of us," she said, referring to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June of 2016. "They [Pulse survivors] know exactly where they're coming from. They can relate on so many levels that the every day person could never find a way to relate."

Now, Crawford is organizing this Saturday's Southwest Florida Pride Festival. It's estimated more than 6,000 people will attend the outdoor event. Last year's festival, which happened months after the Pulse shooting, had triple the normal amount of security. This year, there will be even more. "The event will be fully closed off. There will be an entrance area, everyone walking into the event will need to go through a bag check," she said.

More Fort Myers Police Officers and a bigger private security team will be at this weekend's festival at the Alliance Of the Arts in Fort Myers. Crawford hopes yesterday's tragedy won't stop people from living their normal lives. "Don't live in fear. Don't live in paranoia, you're letting them win," she said. "You''re letting them, on an event that could happen, take over your entire life. Live your life."