PARMA, Ohio -- Local mosques are increasing security following the terror attack at two mosques in New Zealand.
A scheduled Friday afternoon sermon and prayer drew Muslims from around the area to gather at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in Parma. While prayer continued inside police were parked outside.
Another officer was also stationed inside the mosque's lobby.
The local police presence comes out of an abundance of caution following the mass shooting in New Zealand. At least 49 people have been killed and 20 seriously injured after gunmen opened fire in two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, a coordinated and unprecedented attack that has left the country's citizens shocked.
Islamic Center of Cleveland President Elect Ziad Tayeh said the increased police presence will help calm nerves at the mosque during prayers in the aftermath of the shooting spree.
"Something you're always concerned about is copy cats. You never know what's going to happen. We would prefer to be prepared for anything that would happen instead of being regretful later," said Tayeh.
Laura Irwin drove up from Oberlin to the Islamic Center of Cleveland to spread a message of peace by handing out flowers and show support for local Muslims.
“I think one of the things we need to remember is we our one family and we need to support each other," Irwin said.
Tayeh said he's not sure what the motive for the mass shooting was, but police in New Zealand believe the gunman posted hateful speech toward Muslims before the shootings.
“I believe it's white supremacists that are behind the attacks. That's absolutely clear. I think there's a lot of hate rhetoric,” Tayeh said. "If you want to learn more about Islam you should come see us. You should not listen to those people. Make friends with the Muslims and understand what Islam is first hand."
Fifteen Cleveland area mosques have increased security in wake of the New Zealand tragedy.
Meanwhile, groups from numerous faiths across the Greater Cleveland area, along with public officials, gathered on the steps of Cleveland City Hall at 5 p.m. Friday to pray for the victims of the terror attacks and their families.
The group included members from various religions standing together to speak out against hate, racism, and bigotry while reaffirming the values they believe to be in the hearts of northeast Ohioans.