Fort Worth

Fort Worth vigil planned Monday; police investigate possible death threat at mosque

Jose Montañez, general manager, at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth Sunday afternoon.
Jose Montañez, general manager, at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth Sunday afternoon.

One Fort Worth church planned a vigil Monday honoring victims of the Orlando mass shooting, and a mosque in the city dealt with a possible death threat Sunday afternoon.

Farid Saiyed, vice chairman of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County, said he received a text message saying that a woman went to the mosque and shouted, “Death to all Muslims!” repeatedly.

Fort Worth police investigated the threat at Islamic Center of Tarrant County, in the 4900 block of Diaz Avenue, said Sgt. Marc Povero, a police spokesman. Officers were dispatched to the mosque at 2:30 p.m.

By 4 p.m., Povero wrote in an email that there had been no “credible threats” received by the department.

Alia Salem of the DFW Council for American-Islamic Relations said the woman screamed obscenities and told mosque attendees, "You people are killers," and that she was bringing other people back to the mosque to kill them.

The woman, Salem said, claimed to support the gay community.

Wafeeq Sabir, retired police officer and chair of the security committee at the mosque said the woman was wearing an LGBT pride shirt and told mosque attendees to go back where they came from.

David Mack Henderson, co-founder and president of Fairness Fort Worth, said Fort Worth Police Chief Joe Fitzgerald sent his condolences about the shootings and told him police are monitoring social media for potential copycats.

“I anticipate stepped-up patrols at places where LGBT people congregate,” Henderson said.

The Rainbow Lounge, a Fort Worth LBGT bar, is increasing security, said general manager Jose Montanez.

“We’re getting off-duty uniformed police officers to come in and cover our security,” he said. “We need to make sure everybody feels safe.”

Few patrons were at the bar Sunday afternoon. Montanez said that after the news of the shootings, friends on social media said they weren’t going out until things calmed down.

David and Angela Kocher of Fort Worth said they were at Rainbow Lounge to pay their respects to the gay community Sunday afternoon.

“I woke up to it,” said David Kocher, 49. “It’s not right to happen anywhere, in any bar, to anybody. I feel bad. I’m grieving with them right now.”

Henderson noted that for decades LGBT people had found nightclubs safe.

“A slaughter like this one comes with clear intent to declare you can never be safe,” Henderson said. “But we will. We will continue to reach out to others of goodwill, build bridges and share our endearing family experiences with others.”

Fairness Fort Worth provides diversity training, educates healthcare leaders and provides other community services in support of the LGBT community.

Vigil planned at 7 p.m. Monday

A vigil to honor and mourn victims of the Orlando shooting is planned at Celebration Community Church Monday at 7 p.m. at the church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., in Fort Worth.

"We’ve invited faith leaders from throughout the community," the Rev. Carol West of the church said. "This was just a horrific act, and we’re going to meet together to honor and remember."

The message will be one of love, healing and moving forward, West said.

"This community is very tight knit and we stand together. We’ve made some very good allies over the years and we have friends galore," she said. "We’re all in this together. You hurt one of us you hurt all of us. We’re not going to be driven underground."

On Facebook, Henderson encouraged LGBT supporters across Tarrant County to join the vigil: “There are moments when we need to gather to fortify our community and draw upon our grief and dismay to collectively empower our better endeavors,” he wrote. “This is one of those times; please join us.”

The Islamic Association of Tarrant County released a statement Sunday that condemned the shootings and added: “We are deeply disturbed and disgusted that someone who would call himself a Muslim would perpetrate such a horrible act of violence against his fellow Americans in the name of God.”

Henderson also posted a statement on Facebook saying, in part:

“Our lives are precious. Turn to those you love today and remind yourselves of the joy you’ve brought to the world we occupy, in honor of those we’ve lost. It’s not lost on me that this occurred at a place our people generally feel safe from harms that can be targeted from the outside world. THIS is why we continue to work toward inclusive policies lived in practice throughout our community, and especially in our schools where kids are often most vulnerable.”

Star-Telegram staff writer Judy Wiley contributed to this report.

Ryan Osborne: 817-390-7760, @RyanOsborneFWST; Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr; Dylan Bradley: 817-390-7984, @dbradley1220