The victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting

World Today

HONG-KONG-US-ATTACKS-GAYA woman writes a message of support in a book placed in front of candles left by other attendees of a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting in Florida, in Hong Kong on June 13, 2016. Law enforcement authorities have lowered the death toll from the weekend massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando to 49, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, explaining that the shooter had been counted in the original tally. / AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE

Family and friends remember the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting.

Akyra Monet Murray – 18 years old

Akyra Monet Murray was a recent high school graduate, a talented athlete and a sharp student/Photo Facebook

Akyra Monet Murray was a recent high school graduate, a talented athlete and a sharp student/Photo Facebook

Akyra Murray, recently graduated third in her high school class of 42 students, had scored 1,000 points on the basketball team and intended to play basketball at Mercyhurst University. 

To celebrate her graduation, Akyra Murray, her parents and her 4-year-old sister traveled to Orlando. Murray wanted to party in downtown Orlando, and her parents dropped her off at Pulse at 11:30 p.m.

At about 2 a.m., Akyra Murray sent a text message, saying she and her cousins wanted to be picked up and there’d been a shooting. Moments later, she called her mother, Natalie Murray and told her to call the police.

She was hiding in a bathroom stall, as her arm bled for hours.


Alejandro Barrios Martinez – 21 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, youngest victim at Pulse

Alejandro Barrios Martinez immigrated from Cuba to Florida in 2014/Photo Facebook

Martinez had recently moved to Florida from Cuba and was still trying to master English, according to a friend.

Sarai Torres told the Orlando Sentinel she met Martinez last year, and he “always had a smile on his face.”

“Every interaction I had with him was totally positive,” she said, adding that she remembers Martinez as an outgoing person who introduced her to his other friends. “He’s the type of person (who would) see you in a parking lot and he’d have a whole conversation with you.”

Torres, 30, said she saw Martinez several times at Pulse nightclub, which she described as a good place to meet new people. She was not at the club during the shooting.


Amanda Alvear – 25 years old

Amanda Alvear

Amanda Alvear was a pharmacy technician/Photo Facebook

Alvear and Mercedez Flores posted on Snapchat from the nightclub before the shooting.

Alvear’s friend Sandy Marte said one of Alvear’s Snapchats showed a packed club full of revelers. Another, was a selfie video of Alvear with a series of gunshots in the background.

“She was loving, she was caring, she always had an open ear, she always wanted to help people,” Marte said. “She had an amazing heart.”




Angel L. Candelario-Padro – 28 years old

Angel Candelario-Padro was an ophthalmic technician at the Florida Retina Institute.

Angel Candelario-Padro was an ophthalmic technician at the Florida Retina Institute/Photo Facebook

Candelario-Padro moved to Orlando from Chicago in January to be closer to family. The nurse and National Guard member soon found a new job and a new love.

“He was a humble boy, a good student. He liked to work and wasn’t too much into partying,” his aunt Leticia Padro told Univision.

Candelario-Padro loved music and had played the clarinet in a band in his hometown of Guanica, Puerto Rico, according to uncle Efrain Padro.

“We’re waiting for his body to be brought home,” he said. “We will welcome him with music.”




Capt. Antonio Davon Brown – 29 years old

Captain Antonio Davon Brown was a human resources officer in the U.S. Army Reserve

Capt. Antonio Davon Brown was a human resources officer in the U.S. Army Reserve/Photo Facebook

Brown served in the Army Reserve and deployed to Kuwait for nearly a year from April 2010 to March 2011.

Brown graduated in 2008 from Florida A&M, where he majored in criminal justice and participated in the ROTC program.

Lt. Col. Kelvin Scott, a ROTC instructor, remembered Brown’s positive attitude and sense of humor.

“He kept a smile on his face,” Scott told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. “He was willing to work very hard to earn his commission.”



Anthony Luis Laureano Disla – 25 years old

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, moved to Florida to become a dancer

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, moved to Florida to become a dancer/Photo Facebook

Laureano Disla started dancing at the age of 10 and was comfortable with any number of styles, from salsa to ballroom, his cousin Ana Figueroa said.

Figueroa told the Orlando Sentinel that Laureano Disla invited her out for a night of dancing at Pulse nightclub, but she told him she was too tired. He was out with two roommates, both of whom were injured in the shooting, she said. 

Born in Puerto Rico, Laureano Disla moved to Orlando about three years ago to become a dancer and choreographer, Figueroa said.

“I want people to remember Anthony as someone who was very happy and very kind,” Figueroa said. “This is just devastating for our family and his friends.”


Brenda Lee Marquez McCool – 49 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a mom of 12 and grandmother of six

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a mom of 12 and grandmother of six/Photo Facebook

McCool loved to dance so much that she’d go to nightclubs with her 21-year-old son. They were both at Pulse. She was killed, but her son Isaiah Henderson survived, her oldest daughter, Khalisha Pressley, told NBC News.

“She was always really cool, but really a mom at the end of the day … the sweetest lovingest person in the world,” Pressley said of her mother, a two-time cancer survivor who had 11 children.

“She was a fighter,” lifelong friend Noreen Vaquer told the Orlando Sentinel. “She doesn’t take nothing from nobody.”




Christopher Andrew Leinonen – 32 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology

Christopher Andrew Leinonen earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology/Photo Facebook

Christopher Leinonen went to the club with his friend Brandon Wolf when the shooting started.

Wolf texted Leinonen’s mother to say a shooting had occurred and her son was missing.

Christine Leinonen drove to Orlando at 4 a.m. from Polk County, southwest of the city. When she arrived, she began checking emergency rooms to find her son. She never did.

“These are nonsensical killings of our children,” she said, sobbing. “They’re killing our babies!”

She said Wolf survived by hiding in a bathroom and running out as the bullets flew.





Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz – 24 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, was a Tampa bank employee from Cuba

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, was a Tampa bank employee from Cuba/Photo Facebook

Sanfeliz was always friendly and outgoing, “the most positive guy I’ve ever known,” friend Josh Palange said.

They became friends during middle school, and in high school, took honors classes and band together — Sanfeliz on trumpet. Though they didn’t see each other much after graduating in 2010, “we stayed friends on Facebook,” Palange told the Tampa Bay Times.

Sanfeliz’s family moved there from Cuba in the 1960s, family friend Mike Wallace said. Sanfeliz took business classes at a community college and was hired as a bank teller and worked his way up to become a personal banker, Wallace said.

“He [was] a wonderful person and this is such a tragedy,” said Wallace. “He was cut down in his prime.”



Cory James Connell – 21 years old

Cory James Connell

Cory James Connell was a student at Valencia College/Photo Facebook

Connell was his family’s superhero, his brother Ryan said in a Facebook post.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, friends and even a former middle school teacher posted to Facebook about him.

“I’ve taught almost 1,700 kids at Lee. He was so special,” Shelley Klein, a science teacher at Lee Middle School, said. “All of his teachers at Lee adored him. We describe him as our all-time favorite.”

Nancy Robbinson, a member of the Orange County School Board, remembered the Connell greeting her with smiles when she saw him at a Publix grocery store, where he worked.

“… and sometimes I was even blessed to get a hug,” she wrote.

Darryl Roman Burt II – 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, just earned a degree in Human Resources Management

Darryl Roman Burt II, just earned a degree in Human Resources Management/Photo Facebook

Burt worked as a financial aid officer for Keiser University’s Jacksonville, Florida, campus.

As a volunteer, he co-chaired a clothing drive for the homeless for the Jacksonville Jaycees, a nonprofit organization.

“Darryl was very passionate about working in the community and wasn’t afraid to take the lead,” Jacksonville Jaycees President Shawn DeVries told the Indianapolis Star. “If someone needed anything, he’d usually just ask for the details: where, when and what are the deadlines.”

Burt left behind family in central Indiana, and recently earned a degree in human resources management.



Deonka Deidra Drayton – 32 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, worked at Pulse night club

Deonka Deidra Drayton, worked at Pulse night club/Photo Instagram @melodymaiaDrayton, 32, was quick to tell someone off if she thought they were in the wrong, but it was her way of showing she cared, an ex-girlfriend said.

Drayton had been in legal trouble involving drugs, but Ashleigh Alleyne told the Orlando Sentinel that Drayton was changing after they had been arrested together a couple years ago.

“She was actually putting in effort, because we both hit rock bottom at the same time,” Alleyne said. “She pushed me to get through her issues, and I always tried to do the same for her.”






Edward Sotomayor Jr. – 34 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr.

Edward Sotomayor Jr. was a national brand manager for a gay cruise company/Photo Facebook

Edward Sotomayor was a caring, energetic man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, according to his cousin, David Sotomayor.

Edward worked for a company that held gay cruises and often traveled to promote the company’s events, David Sotomayor said.

David Sotomayor was a drag queen, who appeared on a season of the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” using the name “Jade.”

“You never think that’s going to be the last time you speak to him,” Sotomayor said. “It’s just heartbreaking to know it just can happen anytime.”




Eddie Jamoldroy Justice – 30 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, accountant

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice was an accountant/Photo Facebook

Eddie Justice tapped out a series of chilling text messages to his mother from a bathroom at Pulse, a 45-minute exchange that began with a message of love.

“Mommy I love you,” the first message to Mina Justice at 2:06 a.m. said. The messages became more frantic as he told her the shooter was in the bathroom where he was hiding.

“He’s a terror,” her son wrote.

Eddie Justice normally was a homebody who liked to eat, workout and make everyone laugh, his mother said. He worked as an accountant.

“Lives in a sky house, like the Jeffersons,” his mother said she liked to say of his condominium.


Enrique L. Rios, Jr. – 25 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr. worked as a coordinator for a home health care agency

Enrique L. Rios, Jr. worked as a coordinator for a home health care agency/Photo FacebookRios had come from Brooklyn to Orlando to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Even though his mother, Gertrude Merced, says that her heart is broken, she has already forgiven the gunman.

“I’m not angry at the gunman. I’m angry about the situation. I’m going to forever miss my son … but I still have the hope that I’m going to see him again one day,” Merced told reporters as she packed her bags outside her New York apartment and headed to Florida.

Rios’ Facebook page says he worked with a home health care agency, and his mother said he had a heart for helping the elderly. He was studying social work.

Family and friends said he was determined, always helping others and had a heart of gold.



Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera – 36 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera worked in merchandise management for Toys R Us and Ross

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera worked in merchandise management for Toys R Us and Ross/Photo Facebook

Ortiz-Rivera followed the crowd from a housewarming party to Pulse, according to former roommate Abismael Colon Gomez.

“I am really in shock that he was in the club, because he was not usually a club-scene person,” Colon Gomez told the Orlando Sentinel. “The only reason he went was because there was a housewarming party for our friend. And Eric was like his mentor.”

Ortiz-Rivera worked in merchandise management for Toys R Us and Ross, had earned a degree in communications from a university in Puerto Rico and came to Florida to advance his career.

“Eric was always willing to help everybody. He sacrificed himself a lot for his family,” Colon Gomez said. “He loved his brother, and he was always being generous.”



Frank Hernandez – 27 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old managed a Calvin Klein clothing store.

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old managed a Calvin Klein clothing store/Photo Facebook

Hernandez loved fashion and lived to purchase the finest pieces of clothing at Calvin Klein or Armani.

“He had the best of everything, the most expensive,” said Jessica Leal, 19, one of his five siblings. “He liked the good stuff. And he worked hard for it.” She said she plans to wear Calvin Klein to his funeral.

A manager at a Calvin Klein store in Orlando, Hernandez grew up in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border, and lived in Central Florida for three years. 

According to media reports, Hernandez’s boyfriend was able to escape, but lost track of Hernandez in the chaos.

Franky Jimmy De Jesus Velazquez – 50 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Forever 21 employee and professional Jibaro dancer

Franky Jimmy De Jesus Velazquez was a Forever 21 employee and Jibaro dancer/Photo Facebook

Velazquez worked as a visual merchandiser, designing displays for an Orlando clothing store, according to his Facebook page. He posted inspirational and funny messages on his page, including a T-shirt that read: “Never underestimate an old man who is also a visual merchandiser.”

On a list of victims with an average age of 29 years old, Velazquez was the oldest. But age never became a barrier for Velazquez, former co-worker Bret Werner said.

“He was a very outgoing, friendly person,” Werner, who worked with him at a clothing store in Miami, said.. “Everyone wanted to be around him.”

Among family and friends in his native Puerto Rico, Velazquez was known for Jibaro folk dancing, said his sister, Shiela De Jesus. “He was a very loved person.”



Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez – 25 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez was an actor and dancer/Photo Facebook

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez was an actor and dancer/Photo Facebook

Ortiz-Jimenez, was known to friends and on Facebook as Drake. He was proud of his Dominican heritage, posing with a flag of the Dominican Republic in celebration of a Dominican model winning Nuestra Belleza Latina 2016. The photo, posted on Facebook, included Spanish-language hashtags that translate as #proud #Dominican.

Ortiz-Jimenez graduated from J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 2010, school district spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder told The Associated Press. He was living in Puerto Rico, according to his social media accounts, and studying at Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Kevin Ortiz, a friend from college, described him as a humble man who was always concerned about staying fit and working toward fulfilling his dream of being a dancer.


Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez – 25 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez worked Speedway convenience stores while he studied health care management at Ana G. Mendez University in Orlando

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez worked at Speedway convenience stores while he studied health care management at Ana G. Mendez University/Photo Facebook

Silva Menendez moved to Orlando a few years ago, his cousin, Irma Silva-Lauer, told the Orlando Sentinel.

He was an only child and “the light and the life of all the family gatherings,” Silva-Lauer said.









Jason Benjamin Josaphat – 19 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Jason Benjamin Josaphat was a computer science student at Valencia College/Photo Facebook

Josaphat called his mother as a gunman opened fire to ask for help, his aunt and uncle said.

She stayed on the line with him and could hear gunshots in the background, but tried to calm him down as he hid in the bathroom, Jimmy and Myrleine Inelus told KPNX-TV in Arizona, where Josaphat went to high school.

His mother then didn’t hear anything for as many as 20 seconds.

“It was dead silence on the phone … I think that’s when the gunman finally made his way into the bathroom,” Jimmy Inelus said.

Josaphat moved to Orlando after graduating from high school in 2014.



Javier Jorge-Reyes – 40 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes

Javier Jorge-Reyes was a Gucci salesman at the Mall at Millenia/Photo Facebook

Jorge-Reyes was known as “Javi” by his friends and as “Harvey George-Kings” on Facebook — a literal English translation of his name.

But his Facebook profile name belied a deep pride in his Latino heritage, friends told the Orlando Sentinel.

“He was proud to be Latino, super proud,” friend Jose Diaz told the newspaper, adding: “He was always positive. He was very humble. He was a lovely friend.”

Diaz recalled Jorge-Reyes, who worked at a Gucci store at an Orlando mall, selling him a wallet.

Another friend, Edith Colon of Miami, said Jorge-Reyes was a top salesman and makeup artist.



Jean Carlos Nives Rodriguez – 27 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez was a general manager of a check-cashing store

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez was a general manager of a Mcdonald’s and a check-cashing store/Photo Facebook

Nieves Rodriguez was remembered by family and friends as a kind man and a hard worker.

Nieves Rodriguez, originally from Puerto Rico, had worked as manager of a McDonald’s and a check-cashing store and bought his first house a month and a half ago, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“He wanted to be the best at what he did, and he would work very hard to achieve that. … That’s why whatever job he went to, he became a manager,” friend Ivonne Irizarry told the newspaper.

His sister Valeria Monroig said he “cared more about others than about himself.”




Jean Carlos Mendez Perez – 35 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez was a Orlando Parfumania employee

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez was a Orlando Parfumania employee/Photo Facebook

Mendez Perez, who was originally from Puerto Rico, had a humor and warmth that made him a great salesman — and helped him find love, a co-worker said.

“He laughed with the people and would make jokes,” said Claudia Agudelo, who worked with Perez at a perfume store. “He was always happy.”

Mendez Perez met his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, about a decade ago when he sold him the fragrance Declaration by Cartier, Agudelo told the Orlando Sentinel. Wilson-Leon also died in the nightclub shooting.

Sister-in-law Katia Mendez said Mendez Perez also was a fun-loving and doting uncle who would buy her three children candy and ice cream.





Jerald Arthur Wright – 31 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright worked at Disney World as a seasonal. He also worked in marketing and sales

Jerald Arthur Wright worked at Disney World as a seasonal. He also worked in marketing and sales/Photo Facebook

Wright was quiet, but knew how to treat guests at Walt Disney World, where he worked as a seasonal employee, a former co-worker said.

“He was one of the kindest people you could meet,” co-worker Kenneth Berrios told the Orlando Sentinel. “We had students from the London program. and Jerry was always willing to give rides to them and show them around town.”

Wright “was a great guy to work with,” former co-worker Scott Dickison said. “He was quiet but really wonderful with all the guests. He always had a smile on his face.”

Dickison said Wright had worked most recently in merchandising on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, but also had worked in Tomorrowland and at Universal Studios in Orlando.



Joel Rayon Paniagua – 32 years old

Joel Rayon Paniag worked in construction, sending money to his family in Mexico

Joel Rayon Paniag worked in construction, sending money to his family in Mexico/Photo Facebook

Rayon Paniagua moved to Florida from Mexico in the early 2000s in search of a better life. He went back to his home state of Veracruz for several years, but returned to Tampa less than a year ago, relatives and friends said.

“We came because here in the United States there are many opportunities here and because we were fleeing because in our country there was a lot of crime, violence and death … and we expect it should be more peaceful here,” his cousin Jose Paniagua told Newsday.

The construction worker was looking forward to meeting friends at Pulse for another night of dancing — something he loved to do, friend Lorena Barragan told the Orlando Sentinel.

“He was the best,” Barragan, who met Rayon Paniagua at church, said. “He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better.”


Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega – 24 years old

Jonathan Camuy, La Voz Kids Producer

Jonathan Camuy, “La Voz Kids” Producer/Photo Facebook

Camuy Vega moved to Central Florida from Puerto Rico to work for the Spanish-language television network Telemundo. He was on the production team for “La Voz Kids,” a talent show for young singers in its fourth season.

“Jonathan was an extremely hard-working individual, full of life, enthusiastic and with a great personality,” the network said in a statement. “He will be missed dearly.”

Camuy Vega was also active in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which called him “one of our own” in a statement about his death.



Juan Chavez Martinez – 25 years old

Juan Chavez Martinez worked for APDC Services where Martinez was a housekeeping supervisor

Juan Chavez Martinez worked for APDC Services as a housekeeping supervisor/Photo Facebook

Juan Chavez Martinez, 25, was a beloved boss and friend, friends and co-workers told the Orlando Sentinel.

Friends said Martinez came to the U.S. from Huichapan, Mexico, and worked as a housekeeping supervisor for a hospitality service company.

“He was extremely friendly, very dedicated to his family, to his co-workers . It is very difficult. Everybody loved him,” Alicia Amarro, chief financial officer for the company, APDC Services, said..

Jose Crisantos used to work with Martinez at Reunion Resorts and also remembered Martinez’s kindness.

“He was very well known among us as very kind and loving,” Crisantos said. “There was nobody else like him. It is a devastating loss.”


Juan Pablo Rivera Velazquez – 37 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez

Juan P. Rivera Velazque co-owned Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine Salon/Photo Facebook

Velazquez ram Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine salon in Kissimmee with Luis Daniel Conde, his longtime partner, who was also killed.

Client Alexandra Ale told the Orlando Sentinel the salon would often be filled with clients who were there just to see the Velazquez and Conde.

Ale said the salon would often provide free services to women who had been victims of domestic abuse.

“They would take the shirt off their back to help others,” Jocelyn De Leon, another client, said.

Messages were left in chalk on the sidewalk outside their salon. “We will always thank you for making us feel beautiful,” one message read.



Juan Ramon Guerrero – 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero

Juan Ramon Guerrero was a telemarketer and University of Central Florida student/Photo Facebook

Juan Ramon Guerrero told his cousin, Robert Guerrero, 19, that he was gay about two years ago. But he was worried about how the rest of his family would react, and did not tell them until just before the beginning of this year.

“They were very accepting,” Robert Guerrero said. “As long as he was happy, they were OK with it.”

He got concerned after hearing of the shooting at Pulse, where he knew his cousin would go sometimes.

Juan Ramon Guerrero was a telemarketer, attended the University of Central Florida and was in a serious relationship, Robert Guerrero said.

“… (H)e was like a big brother to me,” he said. “He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew.”


Kimberly “KJ” Morris – 37 years old

Kimberly Morris, bouncer at Pulse nightclub

Kimberly Morris, bouncer at Pulse nightclub/Photo Facebook

Morris worked at Pulse as a bouncer, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“She’d just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there,” ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the newspaper.

Morri’s friend, Liz Lamoureux, told The Associated Press in a statement that Morris was a true friend.

“What did KJ die for? Being gay and going to work? It just makes no sense — her life amounts to so much more.”

Leroy Valentin Fernandez – 25 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez worked as a leasing agent at an apartment complex.

Leroy Valentin Fernandez worked as a leasing agent at an apartment complex/Photo Facebook

Fernandez recently had found a job as a leasing agent for an Orlando apartment complex, his friend Jennifer Rodriguez said.

“He had finally found something he liked. He was taking care of his mom,” she said of Fernandez, who was also her hair stylist and one of her best friends.

“He was like a brother,” she said. “He was just really very spirited and always happy, you know?”

Fernandez recently had been dating an older man, a dancer known by the stage name Eman Valentino, who also died in the shooting.





Luis Daniel Conde – 39 years old

Luis Daniel Conde

Luis Daniel Conde co-owned Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine Salon/Photo Facebook

Conde ran the beauty salon Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine in Kissimmee with another victim of the shooting at Pulse, Juan Pablo Rivera Velasquez, his longtime partner.

“Everyone knows about this beauty salon,” Irene Rivera told the Orlando Sentinel. She spoke of the couple’s work on the Belleza Latina pageant.

Tania Mercador was in tears as she described how she was supposed to have joined Conde and Velasquez at Pulse.

“I used GPS and got lost,” she said. “It kept sending me to the wrong address.”




Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon – 37 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, grew up in Puerto Rico

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, grew up in Puerto Rico/Photo Facebook

Wilson-Leon barely spoke English when he moved from Puerto Rico to Florida in 2004, but the language barrier didn’t deter him.

He quickly learned English, got a job and eventually met his partner, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, who also died.

“(Wilson-Leon) walked into the room and all eyes were on him because of his positive energy, just what he radiated … I’m heartbroken,” said his cousin, Laly Santiago-Leon, adding that the couple frequented Pulse and loved Latin Night.

Even though Wilson-Leon had been bullied for his sexuality, longtime friend Gmys-Casiano said told the Orlando Sentinel he was his hero, “he never retaliated with hate. … He would stand to protect his friends.”


Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo – 20 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Dancer

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, dancer, Starbucks barista and theater student Dancer/Photo Facebook

“He was one of the most amazing dancers,” his sister, Belinette Ocasio-Capo, said. “He would always call me and say, ‘I’m going to be the next Hollywood star.’ He really did want to make it and be known.”

“Now his name ended up being all around the world, like he wanted — just not this way,” she said of her brother, a dancer who was working at a Starbucks while studying theater.

Ocasio-Campo at first seemed brash to 70-year-old Claudia Mason, a co-worker, but after getting to know him, she said, “I realized he had a very outgoing personality.”

“His sense of humor was definitely his defining personality trait,” she said. “Omar [as he was known by friends and family] got along with everyone. Young, old, male, female, gay or straight, it didn’t matter to Omar.”


Luis S. Vielma – 22 years old

Luis S. Vielma, attraction worker at Universal Studios

Luis S. Vielma was an attraction worker at Universal Studios/Photo Facebook

Vielma was well-loved and worked at Universal Studios, who just wanted to make people smile, friends said.

High school friend Eddi Anderson told the Tampa Bay Times that Vielma loved his job at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and was known for his pleasant attitude and warm demeanor.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books that spawned the movies and section of the theme park, tweeted a picture of Vielma in a Hogwarts school tie, and said: “I can’t stop crying.”

“He was always a friend you could call. He was always open and available.” Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma, told the Orlando Sentinel.


Martin Benitez Torres – 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, student at Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez in San Juan Puerto Rico

Martin Benitez Torres was a student at Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez in San Juan, Puerto Rico/Photo Facebook

Martin Benitez Torres, 33, had recently moved to Orlando and was working to become a pharmacy technician.

Benitez was a student at a Tampa satellite campus of the Ana G. Mendez University System, based in Puerto Rico, where he was born. In a university statement, one of his professors called him a “diligent and extremely hardworking student.”

Benitez was “thankful for the opportunity to advance his career and hopeful to make his dreams a reality,” Carla Zayas, a Spanish professor, said.

He posted several photos and videos on his Facebook page in the days before the shooting, including one in the kitchen cooking with family members.



Mercedez Marisol Flores – 26 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, studied literature at Orlando's Valencia Community College and worked at Target

Mercedez Marisol Flores studied literature at Valencia College and worked at Target/Photo Facebook

Mercedez Flores went to Pulse nightclub almost every weekend, often with her best friend, Amanda Alvear.

“She was very outgoing,” her sister-in-law, Nancy Flores, said. “She had lots of friends.”

Mercedez Flores worked at Target, studied at a local community college and wanted to become a party planner so she could coordinate events with her two older brothers, who are both DJs.

Mercedez Flores’ family spent hours waiting at Orlando Regional Medical Center, then a staging area at a nearby hotel. Someone read the names of victims still hospitalized or being released, and her name wasn’t on the list. Her father got a call early the next day from the sheriff’s office that his daughter had died, Nancy Flores said.



Miguel Angel Honorato – 30 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering

Miguel Angel Honorato worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering/Photo Facebook

Miguel Honorato was a father of three who managed four restaurants in central Florida along with a side catering business. He was always the one to drop everything to help out his family, which included seven siblings.

His brother, Jose Honorato, wrote a simple, heartfelt message on his brother’s Facebook page: “Come home bro, I’m waiting for you.”

“He was my mentor and my supporter. He helped very much in my parent’s house and work,” Honorato said. Even though Miguel was younger, he gave sage advice about the family business, his brother said.

Jose Honorato changed his Facebook photo Monday to one of the two brothers smiling over a charcoal grill, one of many happy memories cooking together.



Oscar A. Aracena-Montero – 26 years old

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero moved from the Dominican Republic to Central Florida

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero moved from the Dominican Republic to Central Florida/Photo Facebook

Aracena-Montero lived with his partner, Simon Adrian Carillo-Fernandez, and three Chihuahuas in a home they bought last year, a friend, Andrea Herrera, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Yamilka Pimentel, a cousin, said Araceno-Montero moved with his father from the Dominican Republic to Central Florida as a child.

“Oscar was a very sweet guy. Very sweet to everybody,” Pimentel told the newspaper. “Every time he met somebody they would like him a lot. He was the type of guy who goes along with anybody.”




Paul Terrell Henry – 41 years old

Paul Terrell Henry was often at the Latin nights at the Pulse

Paul Terrell Henry was a devoted father of two/Photo Facebook

Henry was a caring father of two who loved to dance, play piano and sing, according to his friends and his boyfriend.

Francisco Hernandez, Henry’s boyfriend, told the Orlando Sentinel that the Chicago native’s main priority was to make sure his kids were taken care of.

“Such a loving spirit. I’ll always have him in my heart,” said Hernandez, who added that he will most remember Henry’s smile.

Bettye Edwards told the newspaper that she and Henry started a church briefly and that Henry had a master’s degree in business from Florida State University and a theological degree.

Henry never took a lesson, Edwards said, but he was a talented singer and musician.

“He just was over the top and made everybody smile,” Danielle Biggers, Henry’s former co-worker at a resort company, said.


Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz – 22 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, worked at UPS Orlando

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz worked at UPS Orlando/Photo Facebook

Gonzalez-Cruz, known among family and friends as “Ommy,” was always the life of the party.

“Peter makes a difference everywhere he goes. He was a happy person. If Peter is not at the party, no one wants to go,” his aunt, Sonia Cruz, said.

Gonzalez-Cruz, who worked at UPS, went to Pulse with his best friend, 25-year-old Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez.

After news of the mass shooting emerged, Sonia Cruz said she held out hope for hours that her nephew would turn up in a hospital bed. The family was later told he and Menendez were among those killed.


Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala – 33 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala was biologics assistant at a donation center

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala was biologics assistant at a donation center/Photo Facebook

Ayala-Ayala was a biologics supervisor at the OneBlood donation center, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“He’s alive in the people’s lives that he saved,” Mat Simons, who worked under Ayala-Ayala and said his supervisor was also a blood donor, said.

Ayala-Ayala had bought a car and a house within the past year. Wednesday would have been his one-year anniversary of home-ownership.





Shane Evan Tomlinson – 33 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson was a manager and lead vocalist in a cover band called "The Frequency"

Shane Evan Tomlinson was a manager and lead vocalist in a cover band called “The Frequency Band”/Photo Facebook

Tomlinson had a passion for singing and had been the lead vocalist with “The Frequency Band” at a nightclub before going to Pulse, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“He was destined for a grand stage and he was doing exactly what he wanted to do,” Dr. Lathan Turner, associate director of student transitions at East Carolina University, where Tomlinson graduated in 2003 with a degree in communication, said.

“I’ve never met anyone like him,” said Carey Sobel, an Orlando resident who hired Tomlinson’s band to play for his upcoming wedding. “He was really special.”



Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez – 31 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez worked as a manager at an Orlando McDonald's

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez worked as a manager at an Orlando McDonald’s/Photo Facebook

Carrillo-Fernandez loved to travel and “worked to be able to enjoy his life,” co-worker Ivonne Irizarry said.

A manager at McDonald’s, Carillo-Fernandez had traveled to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico and went on cruises, Irizarry said.

He and his partner, Oscar Aracena-Montero, who also was killed at the nightclub, had just returned from Niagara Falls, Irizarry told the Orlando Sentinel.

Carillo-Fernandez never forgot a birthday, she said, and would bring in cakes for his McDonald’s co-workers.

Colleagues said Carrillo-Fernandez’s attention to detail was a trademark of his leadership style.

“He had to be the best, that was his thing. I cook the best, I clean the best, I work the best,” she said of him.


Stanley Almodovar III – 23 years old

Stanley Almodovar III, Pharmacy technician

Stanley Almodovar III was a Pharmacy technician/Photo Facebook

Almodovar’s mother had prepared tomato-and-cheese dip prepared for him to eat when he came home from his night out.

Instead, Rosalie Ramos was awakened by a call telling her something had happened.

Ramos told the Orlando Sentinel that her son, a pharmacy technician, posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing on his way to Pulse nightclub.

“I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever,” she told the newspaper.

A friend, Hazel Ramirez, told the Washington Post that Almodovar was “kind, but sassy,” and someone who was comfortable with his sexual identity.


Tevin Eugene Crosby – 25 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, marketing firm owner from Michigan

Tevin Eugene Crosby was a marketing firm owner from Michigan/Photo Facebook

Tevin Crosby had a drive for success, which was reflected in his inspirational Facebook posts — “2016 will be the best year ever.”

“Whatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal,” his brother, Chavis Crosby, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Tevin Crosby was director of operations for a Michigan marketing firm who’d recently visited family in Statesville, North Carolina, to watch several nieces and nephews graduate.

He traveled to Orlando after passing along some brotherly advice about business and setting goals. He loved to travel for work and fun, Chavis Crosby said.


Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado – 35 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, professional dancer and performed in shows for Disney Live!

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, professional dancer and performed in shows for Disney Live!/Photo Facebook

Serrano Rosado, went by Eman Valentino on the stage. He dressed elegantly in a cap, tie and gloves, collecting tips from the audience between high kicks and spins, according to a YouTube video.

Off the stage, Rosado had a young son who had just graduated from pre-kindergarten.

“I have no words to express how proud and happy I am of my little boy,” Rosado wrote on Facebook recently about his son.

Yemil Royce, a friend, described Rosado as hard-working, talkative and friendly: “He was a lovely friend, brother and father.”




Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan – 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan was a mother to two young children

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan was a mother to two young children/Photo Facebook

Rodriguez Solivan was out for a night of dancing with her brother-in law and a friend, and posed for a photo before a gunman opened fire.

Known as “Mary” to family and friends, Rodriguez Solivan was married to race car driver Juan Borges and had two children, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Her friend, Jonathan Antonio Camuy, also died. Her brother-in-law, William Sabad Borges, was shot twice but the injuries were not serious, the newspaper reported.

“I swear, my heart has a ladder tall enough to reach you both,” Sabad Borges wrote on Facebook. “Mary, you leave me with a pain that I never thought I would feel.”










Story by The Associated Press