Or­lando shoot­ing casts shadow over new­ly­weds

Cou­ple anx­ious vis­it­ing city af­ter hate crime claimed 50 lives

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Blaze Horrors - By Josie Han­nett

An Ash­ford woman trav­el­ling to Or­lando with her wife on the next leg of their hon­ey­moon says she is anx­ious about vis­it­ing fol­low­ing Amer­ica’s worst-ever shoot­ing.

Xe­nia and Vin­nii West, from South Ash­ford, trav­elled to Florida sev­eral weeks ago, be­fore ty­ing the knot on the idyl­lic Venice Beach last Thurs­day.

The pair had been stay­ing in En­gle­wood, which is sit­u­ated less than three hours away from the Pulse Night­club, where 50 peo­ple were shot dead af­ter a gun­man opened fire at the gay club on Sun­day.

This week the new­ly­weds trav­elled down to the city where the bru­tal killings hap­pened in an at­tack which also saw at least an­other 53 in­jured.

The gun­man re­spon­si­ble – Omar Ma­teen – was killed in a shootout with at least 11 po­lice of­fi­cers in­side the club.

For­mer High­worth Gram­mar School pupil Xe­nia, 20, said: “I’m feel­ing ner­vous but okay.

“I know it will be safe in Or­lando be­cause they will have in­creased the se­cu­rity, but there are still peo­ple that have made com­ments that we are all bet­ter off dead, which makes me feel a lit­tle un­easy.

“It up­sets me that every­thing has come so far and just when you think things are be­ing ac­cepted, hate crime like this hap­pens, and although the se­cu­rity in Or­lando will now be high it makes you worry.

“It also means Don­ald Trump has a bet­ter chance in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion be­cause of his anti-im­mi­gra­tion campaign.

“It makes peo­ple fright­ened, if there is a spe­cific group of peo­ple tar­get­ing the LGBT com­mu­nity.”

When asked if the shoot­ings had put a damp­ener on their trip, Xe­nia said: “It has a lit­tle. Florida is a state that widely ac­cepts gay peo­ple and now it is a place that will widely be re­mem­bered for this hate crime.

“I hope the shoot­ings don’t dis­cour­age any­one from be­ing who they are.”

In Or­lando, the pair will be go­ing to Dis­ney­land, Universal Stu­dios and the Kennedy Space Cen­tre.

Pic­ture: Florida Sun Wed­dings

Xe­nia (left) and Vin­nii were mar­ried at Venice beach in Florida on Thurs­day, just days be­fore the killings

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