WASHINGTON - The deadly shooting in Orlando that left 49 people dead has placed an increased focus in the nation’s capital on soft targets -- places such as malls, clubs or bars where you wouldn't normally expect an attack.
Soft targets are a point of concern, especially with enclosed spaces, which can make it difficult to get out if a violent event were to occur.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she received a phone call at about 6 p.m. Sunday not long after the mass shooting incident at the Orlando nightclub had concluded and was told about what happened. She said she jumped into action to make sure that adequate security was in place, bringing in additional resources into the city from the special operations division.
“Within the first 45 minutes to an hour, I just started moving resources around here,” said Lanier. “We had on the schedule, as you know on Sunday, we had large events on the Gay Pride festival downtown and several other events going on. So I had a couple hours before those official events started. It gave me time to move a lot of resources around, put extra security in place. We did internal conference calls, we did external conference calls. Spoke with the FBI, [Department of Homeland Security], some of our critical infrastructure partners in the private sector.”
In the wake of the Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, D.C. police mobilized their nightlife units for the possibility of an attack.
"They are specially trained just to deal with that environment and everything that could go along with that environment,” said Chief Lanier.
“We always operate in a heightened state here in District of Columbia,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We know that we are a target because of we are the nation’s capital, so we continue to operate that way. We tell residents just like we did yesterday that we're going to live, we're not going to be scared off by terrorists or hate-filled people with big guns.”
Large venues like the 9:30 Club in D.C. continued with scheduled concerts.
"They check your bag and they kind of like dig through you,” said one 9:30 Club concertgoer. “They do like a little pat down.”
The concert venue told FOX 5 that because of security reasons, they do not discuss security matters.
JR’s Bar and Grill, a historically gay bar in Dupont Circle, said during past events, there has been a ban on bags. But as a result of the Orlando mass shooting, that ban is now permanent.
"We didn't worry too much about that kind of thing before, but we will take an extra precaution now,” said T.J. Magnette, a bartender at the bar. "What happened in Orlando definitely hits close to home for the gay community. We are going continue to do what we do. Just keep going. We are not going to let something like that hold us back.”
At Town Danceboutique nightclub on 8th Street in Northwest D.C., the owners told us in an email they employ a large uniformed staff stationed throughout the club, which is supported by a sophisticated camera system and multiple uniformed D.C. police officers working out front. The club noted that many in the gay community go to these clubs where they can be themselves and feel safe.
The D.C. Nightlife and Hospitality Association recently co-sponsored a terrorism security briefing for local establishments with D.C. police, Homeland Security and the FBI.
On Monday afternoon, Chief Lanier told reporters she started nightlife zones in 2012 specifically to keep an eye on the clubs that could be targets for terrorism or other violence.
Mayor Bowser also brought up the issue of assault-style weapons. The gunman in the Orlando shooting had an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a handgun when he opened fire in the nightclub.
“Most Americans woke up yesterday morning in shock and mad quite frankly that we are having yet another violent attack on Americans because of deadly weapons,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “That is what really has my attention, that we have to in this country face up to the fact that assault rifles are only meant to devastate human beings, and we have to do something about it.”
Lanier said she is keeping her eye on what has happened in Orlando and is constantly getting updates about information about what happened. With that information, she may change how she directs her resources here and that could change hour to hour.