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West Hollywood gay bar considering armed guards after Orlando shooting

FBI agents keep watch during the L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood on Sunday.
(Mark Ralston / AFP)

A well-known West Hollywood gay bar is considering making armed security guards a regular presence after the mass shooting in an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub Sunday.

The Abbey Food & Bar upped its security presence during L.A. Pride celebrations in West Hollywood on Sunday, hours after the Orlando attack. The bar had 36 guards on duty, including visible, armed guards at the front and back entrances at all times, said Brian Rosman, a spokesman for the bar.

The Abbey is considering making armed guards a regular presence, especially during peak times like Pride, Rosman said.

“It’s something we’re looking at moving forward,” he said. “We’re going to talk more with the sheriff and City Hall to figure out the appropriate safety precautions.”

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The Robertson Boulevard bar, he said, already searches patrons’ bags and purses and asks them to open up bulky coats to see if they have anything dangerous underneath, Rosman said.

On Sunday, the bar was “extra vigilant,” he said.

The bars and clubs of West Hollywood are much more than a nightlife scene. For many, these spaces stand as a safe place and a haven for self expression. (Dillon Deaton/LA Times)

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“It was about keeping our patrons safe and making sure people felt safe,” Rosman said. “We were worried with the news out of Orlando. We didn’t know what would happen.”

The attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — left 49 people dead and at least 53 injured.

David Cooley, owner and founder of the Abbey, was in regular contact with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at the West Hollywood station to figure out the best safety precautions, Rosman said.

Thousands of people lined the West Hollywood streets for the annual Pride parade Sunday, many of them saying it was more important than ever before to be visible and to not let hatred push them back into the closet.

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The Abbey staff, Rosman said, did not consider closing and had large crowds throughout the day. At 3 p.m., the crowd observed a moment of silence for the victims.

“It was really unusual to see the Abbey at full capacity and completely silent during Pride weekend,” Rosman said.

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hailey.branson@latimes.com

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Twitter: @haileybranson


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