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20 Jun, 2021 03:20

1 killed after truck plows into crowd at Pride parade in Florida, mayor calls incident ‘terrorist attack against LGBT’

1 killed after truck plows into crowd at Pride parade in Florida, mayor calls incident ‘terrorist attack against LGBT’

One person was killed and another injured when a truck drove into a crowd gathered for a pride parade near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The city mayor said the incident was a deliberate attack, targeting a congresswoman.

The incident occurred just as the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade kicked off on Saturday evening. A white pickup truck sped up, reportedly in the direction of the car of Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but instead crashed into a business and hit two people, one of whom did not survive their injuries.

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Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was present at the parade, told local media that the suspected assailant’s car missed the lawmaker's vehicle “by inches” before it “smashed through a gate, smashed into a landscaping company, and hit two people.”

A video shared on social media shows police officers rounding up a man wearing a white T-shirt and black glasses at the scene. 

While the Broward County Sheriff's Office reported that two people were “struck by a vehicle” when marching to celebrate “inclusion and equality,” they stopped short of saying if the incident was a premeditated attack.

However, the mayor appeared to have little doubt that the collision was intentional.   

“This was a terrorist attack against the LGBT communities. This is exactly what it is,” Trantalis said. “It was deliberate, it was premeditated and it was targeted against this specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but, unfortunately, they hit two other people,” he added.

Although the mayor claimed that the incident was a premeditated attack on the LGBT community, preliminary information suggests otherwise. The driver of the truck that hit the two men was a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, the group’s president told media, and the vehicle was actually part of the parade.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family,” the group’s leader, Justin Knight, said in a statement. “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”

Wasserman Schultz, who was attending the event in a convertible, looked visibly distressed in wake of the incident.

On Twitter, the congresswoman said that she was “deeply shaken and devastated” by the loss of life at the parade, while expressing gratitude to law enforcement and rescue workers that rushed to the site. 

The parade was canceled to allow a “thorough investigation” and out of respect to the victims, the city announced. However, the Stonewall festival is set to continue, police confirmed, declaring that there was “no danger to the public.”

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