ORLANDO -- As the sun set on Tuesday, more than 100 people were still gathered at the memorial in downtown Orlando for the 49 victims killed during Sunday's deadly shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
Despite a brief but heavy downpour Tuesday evening, mourners from across the country steadily arrived at the main memorial set up in front of the Dr. Phillips Center, Orlando's largest performing arts venue. Less than 24 hours earlier, several thousand people packed the same open space for the city's first public vigil since a gunman opened fire in the popular LGBT club in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A dozen Golden Retrievers and their handlers from Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry roamed the park, offering free and impromptu animal therapy for anyone able to find comfort in the gentle, friendly creatures. Volunteers routinely circled through the park, offering free water bottles to attendees who braved the 98 degree weather, made all the more oppressive by a suffocating humidity.
When the rainstorm that was forecast to pass over Orlando around 6:30 p.m. began to fall, Phillips Center staffers and volunteers promptly rolled out massive plastic tarps to cover the photos, flowers, candles, and countless handmade signs that had been placed in three separate locations around the Phillips Center's lawn, which occupies roughly a square city block.