Orlando shooting casts shadow over newlyweds
Couple anxious visiting city after hate crime claimed 50 lives
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.
Xenia (left) and Vinnii were married at Venice beach in Florida on Thursday, just days before the killings