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The 49 Orlando Victims and Their Stories
The 49 Orlando Victims and Their Stories
Forty-nine people were identified as victims of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., considered the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The city reported the victims on its official website. See their stories below.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
McCool was at the club with her cousin and gay son when she was gunned down, according to her cousin Jessenia Marquez. The family searched through the night for McCool before discovering she had been killed. In a fundraising post created by her son Edwin Morales on Facebook, he described his mother as a "true warrior" who had survived both breast and bone cancer. Morales wrote that she was the mother of 11 children and had been "shot multiple times." McCool's cousin, Kassandra Marquez, 23 and son, Isaiah Henderson survived the shooting. On his Facebook page, Henderson wrote:
According to her Facebook page, McCool had been married to her husband for 15 years. McCool's cousin Kassandra Marquez described the experience surviving the shooting ambush to the BBC.
Here is a video of Brenda McCool enjoying music as she did the night she died.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Franky was the oldest person killed at Pulse. He worked as a visual merchandiser at Forever 21, according to his Facebook page and was originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, like many other victims of the Pulse nightclub shootings. On Facebook, his sister Shiela D De Jesus wrote that she was traveling from Puerto Rico to Orlando to face reality. Lamenting her brother's death, she wrote:
Friends who were with Dejesus when he died remember their friend and tell CNN what they went through at the nightclub.
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Crosby was the oldest son of Earl and Lisa Parker Crosby of Statesville, N.C., his aunt Doris Allison wrote on Facebook.
He owned his own marketing business and lived in Michigan, but was visiting Statesville before traveling to Orlando, according to Time Warner Cable News. He graduated from Strayer University in Charlotte, according to the news program.
"He was very ambitious," his brother Chavis Crosby told the Orlando Sentinel. "Whatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal."
Crosby had been in the city for less than 24 hours and was out with friends when he was shot and killed. Relatives described him as very sweet. "Please respect our family in our time of sorrow. We need your prayers," his aunt wrote on Facebook.
A favored quote of his was by Lou Holtz: "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
KJ Morris, 37
Kim Morris went by the nickname "KJ" and was originally from Torrington, Conn., according to her Facebook profile. She had just moved to Orlando and was working as a bouncer at Pulse the night she was murdered, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Her friend Roxy Heart put up a memorial of lighted candles that she said she would burn all night. "She was so excited to start that job! He took my friend['s] life! She's gone. He stole her smile. He stole her life. He stole her laughter. He stole her charisma. He stole my friends soul. I'm sad," Heart wrote on Facebook.
Morris played college basketball at Post University in Connecticut, according to the Sentinel. Her ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the paper, "She was so excited. She'd just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there." She loved mixed martial arts and was known to perform in drag as "Daddy K" in her former home of Massachusetts, according to AfterEllen.com. Morris's college friend Narvell Benning told the paper, "She was just the sweetest person. I can't think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face. I'm so thankful of the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal."
This is a video of Morris performing the song "Apologize" as Daddy K in the popular lesbian nightclub Divas in Northampton Mass., in 2008. Morris lived in Northampton and worked in the campus center at Smith College, a private women's school.
Amanda Alvear, 25
Alvear was a fashonista who died with her close friend Mercedes Marisol Flores, her family said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
The day she died she had been shopping with her young nieces, her brother Brian Alvear told the paper. "She liked to look good and she wanted my girls—her girls—to look good," he said.
Alvear herself had been through a radical transformation, losing 180 pounds through gastric bypass surgery, according to the paper. Her brother explained that she liked to go to gay clubs because there she felt free to be herself.
Alvear graduated from Ridge Community High School in Davenport, Fla., and worked as a pharmacy technician but planned to become a nurse, according to the paper.
She was a force to be reckoned with. "People got caught in her wake," her brother said, "Whatever she was doing, that's what they were going to do and have fun doing it."
Amanda filmed the last moments of her life on Snapchat.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Flores went to the club with her friend Amanda Alvear, but neither woman survived the night's unspeakable attack. Flores studied literature at Valencia College in Orlando but was originally from Queens, NY, according to her Facebook profile.
In an email, her niece, Jennifer Flores, told the Orlando Sentinel that she loved music. "Whenever I was in the car with her, she always had the music blasting, and I guess she got the love of music from my father and uncle who are DJs." Her niece told the paper, "She was just a really fun nice person and cared a lot about her friends. She really did live her life the way she wanted to."
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Eddie Justice sent his mother harrowing text messages in the moments before he was executed. "Mommy I love you," read the first message. "In club they shooting." Mina Justice tried to call her son, but he did not answer, according to the Associated Press. Then he texted that he was trapped in the bathroom, and at 2:08 a.m. he texted: "I'm gonna die." Justice told the wire service that she knew her son was gay and that he worked as an accountant. She called police when he texted her, but it was too late.
His best friend, Demetrice Naulings, survived the attack and spoke with CBS news about the experience.
Akyra Murray, 18
The youngest victim of the attack, Murray bled profusely in a bathroom stall after being shot in the arm, her mother told the Associated Press. Murray, who was from Philadelphia, was in Orlando on vacation celebrating her high school graduation with her family. She graduated third in her class from West Catholic Preparatory High School and was planning on continuing her 1,000 point high school record playing basketball at Mercyhurst University.
"She was very loving, caring, out to help anybody," her mother, Natalie Murray told the wire service.
Her parents dropped her off at Pulse at 11:30 p.m. with her cousins and at around 2 a.m., she texted telling her parents there was a shooting, according to the wire service.
When she called her mother moments later "... (S)he was screaming, saying she was losing a lot of blood," Murray said.
She was hiding in a bathroom stall, her arm bleeding for hours with no medical treatment, according to the wire service. Her last words to her mother were to call the police.
Murray's cousins survived the attack and one spoke with NPR and another at a press conference about surviving the attack.
Shane Tomlinson, 33
Tomlinson was the front man of the band Frequency, and he loved Janet Jackson, according to his Twitter account. He described himself on social media as a vocal arranger, singer, actor, model, and songwriter. He was a graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in communication with a minor in business administration in 2003, according to the The Charlotte Observer. The paper noted the school would hold a candlelight vigil for the community Tuesday. Below he uses his beautiful voice to perform John Legend's song "Stay With Me."
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Juan Ramon Guerrero was at Pulse with his boyfriend, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, who was also killed. The pair loved to pose together and on Facebook, and Leinonen posted a picture of himself and Guerrero for #ManCrushMonday. Guerrero was a telemarketer who came out to his family recently, his cousin Robert Guerrero, 19, told the Associated Press. "They were very accepting," said Guerrero, adding, "As long as he was happy, they were OK with it." At the time of his death, he was attending the University of Central Florida and in a relationship, his cousin told the wire service. “He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew," his cousin told the wire service.
Guerrero's father, Juan Guererro Sr. was devastated to hear the news of his son's death.
Drew Leinonen, 32
Leinonen died at the club with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero. His mother, Christine Leinonen, showed up at the club and spoke to reporters through tears as she desperately tried to find him. According to his Facebook page, he is originally from Detroit and had just celebrated a birthday this month. Leinonen posed for a photo with Guerrero for #ManCrushMonday and appeared in many photos with his mother and sister.
Aryam Guerrero, the 24-year-old sister of Guerrero told TIME “They were honestly so in love. They were soul mates. You can tell by how they looked at each other.” The couple planned to marry, but now they will have a joint funeral.
“It’s a little comforting that they died together,” she told the magazine.
Leinonen's mother Christine spoke with the Today Show as she waited to see if her son was alive. "You can't deal with the sadness. It's overwhelming," she told the news program.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Perez died with his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, whom he wooed while working at Perfumania, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Perez lived in Kissimmee and liked going out, his sister-in-law Katia Mendez told the paper, adding that he was also a doting uncle who spoiled her three kids.
"He was like a little kid when he was with them," she told the paper.
"He laughed with the people and would make jokes," said Claudia Agudelo, who worked with Perez. "He was always happy."
Perez was from Puerto Rico but moved to Florida when he was a teen, his father, Angel Mendez, told the paper. "He was a real dynamic kid," said Mendez.
Before he was confirmed dead, Perez's father frantically searched for him, showing a cell phone photo of him to the media.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Wilson-Leon Died with his boyfriend, Jean Carlos Perez. The pair had been together for around eight years, longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano told the Orlando Sentinel. Wilson-Leon had always been different and "had been dealing with hate all his life," his friend told the paper.
"We grew up in a really small town in Puerto Rico … and he was going to same church that I was, and he was always the odd man out. He was bullied constantly. He was different. He would dress in black, wear long sideburns,'' Gmys-Casiano recalled.
"He moved to Vero Beach, alone, and knowing almost no English — he was my hero," Gmys-Casiano told the paper.
"He never retaliated with hate. He was a very loving person. He was strong. He would stand to protect his friends," his friend said.
Luis Vielma, 22
Luis S. Vielma worked at Universal Studios in Orlando as part of a team that ran the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction. Before he was found dead, his friend Eddi Anderson posted an emotional message on Facebook, hopeful he would be found alive. Upon hearing of his death, J.K. Rowling tweeted a picture of him, expressing her condolences. Anderson posted the tweet on his Facebook page, beging a touching campaign to #makeluisawizard.
After his quest to find Vielma alive turned out to be in vain, Anderson wrote on Facebook, "Im so sorry everyone... Luis is an angel now. I can't believe you're gone brother.. rest in paradise." Vielma was studying to be a physical therapist at Seminole State College of Florida, according to his Facebook page. One of his last posts on Facebook was a photo of himself and friends standing in front of Disney's Magic Kingdom, captioned "True friends become family."
Anderson searched for his friend after the shooting but was unable to find him.
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Torres, who was from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was visiting family when he was killed, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He was one of multiple victims who attended Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez, school officials told the paper. His cousin Maria Arocho searched for him yesterday and told members of the media that he was last seen with his boyfriend, Michael Morales, who was reportedly shot in both legs during the attack.
From his hospital bed, Morales gave an update to his friends and family in Spanish.
In the days before his death, Torres posted a photo of himself cooking with his family on Facebook.
Omar Capo, 20
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo worked at Target in Kissimmee, Fla., as a cashier and in the store’s Starbucks. He described himself on Facebook as a dancer and was mourned by his coworker Claudia Mason, who wrote, “He lit up any area he worked in, especially Starbucks. So sad that his life was cut so short by such an evil person.” His coworker and close friend Stacey Somah posted a photo of herself with Ocasio-Capo at Starbucks and wrote, “As long as I live and even in death I will not forget you.”
On Facebook Ocasio-Capo's friend, Jose Angel Rodriguez, remembered Ocasio-Capo as "a happy soul. All he liked to do was just dance, all he liked to do was listen to music," Rodriguez said.
On the way to his funeral, Ocasio-Capo's grandmother recieved condolences from JetBlue passengers. The airline has been offering free flights to funerals for family members and domestic partners of victims.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
A bartender at Pulse, Drayton had a cruise booked in September and she was excited to go, her girlfriend Emmy Addison explained on the website Black Lesbian Love Lab. Drayton was working at Pulse the night she was murdered. The couple had been together off and on for nine years. "We had only been separated for two months when one man’s hatred ended our dreams of getting back together," Addison wrote. "Now we’re never going to have the opportunity to not be separated anymore."
Drayton and Addison met on MySpace around the time of Addison's birthday. Friends were wishing Addison a happy birthday and Drayton, who didn't know her, commented "happy birthday." The rest was history, Addison wrote.
"The worst part was leaving the hospital knowing I had to go home to our son who loved her and who she loved so very much," Addison wrote. "He’s only two; he doesn’t understand. But every time I look at all her pictures in my phone, he just points and says, “Mommie.”"
Addison wrote that there wasn't anything she didn't miss about Drayton, "I just want her back," she wrote.
Drayton's mother, Andrea Drayton, remembered her daughter in an interview with the Associated Press.
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Rayon Paniagua worked day and night to send all his money back to his family in Mexico, his friend Norman Joel wrote on Facebook.
"I know that you were one of the great and I will never forget your humility," Joel wrote.
He grew up in Veracruz, Mexico, and crossed the border twice, living first in Ocoee and then in Tampa, working in construction to help his family, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
On Facebook hes described himself as someone who had a love of nature and the simple things in life. He wrote that he was a good friend, friendly and cheerful with a live and let live attitude. "There is no perfect person. Everyone should think as they want and live as they think!"
On Facebook he listed his favorite quotes as: "it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice," and "you don't see with your eyes or invent with your mouth."
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Josaphat was among the youngest victims of the shooting rampage. He recieved certificates for obtaining a 4.0 gpa at Southern Technical College where he studied to become an office specialist, according to his Facebook photos.
He was an Orlando native with two brothers and a sister, the child of Myrlande Bebe and Jackson Josaphat, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"They both were very, very, very much proud of him," his uncle Christopher Long told the paper.
Josaphat called his mother from the club when shooting began, his aunt Josette Desile told the paper. His mother called 911 on another phone but kept her son on the line, Desile said explaining "She said she heard the shots getting closer."
"Everybody is just very, very hurt... You never think it would be you until it is, until it happens to one of your family members," Long told the paper. "Right now, the whole family is grieving."
Josaphat loved Jeremiah's Italian Ice and was a cheerleader in high school, according to his Facebook photos. He appeared to have an emotional side, posting an image in May of the quote: "Part of me knows one more day won't do anything except postpone the heartbreak. But another part of me believes differently. We are born in one day we die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day."
Josaphat also had a silly side, seen here in a video he posted to Facebook:
His family spoke with KPNX about their loss.
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
He loved to dance, his cousin Ana Figueroa told the Orlando Sentinel, adding that he was "very talented." Born in Puerto Rico, Dilsa studied communications at Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon, but moved to Orlando before graduating to pursue his passion for dance.
His mother, Olga Dilsa of Puerto Rico, flew to Orlando as soon as she learned he had been killed, while his father, Luis Laureano, was planning to arrive Monday, his cousin told the paper.
"I want people to remember Anthony as someone who was very happy and very kind," Figueroa told the paper. "This is just devastating for our family and his friends."
"He had a lot of close friends, and they are devastated," she said. "May he rest in peace, my lovely Anthony."
Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22
He went by the name "Peter Ommy," and his Facebook page said he attended high school in New Jersey until 2013 and worked at UPS in Orlando. Ommy spoke both English and Spanish, according to his profile, and was from South Africa.
Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera, 36
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera was originally from Puerto Rico and only came to the nightclub for a special celebration, his former roommate Abismel Colon Gomez told the Orlando Sentinel. "I am really in shock that he was in the club, because he was not usually a club-scene person," Colon Gomez told the paper. "The only reason he went was because there was a housewarming party for our friend. And Eric was like his mentor."
Colon Gomez described Ortiz-Rivera as "always willing to help everybody" and "generous." He worked in retail and had a bachelor's degree in communications from Universidad Central de Bayamon, Colon Gomez told the paper.
"My heart breaks," Colon Gomez said. "We have seven friends who were there, and already we know three are dead." Ortiz-Rivera had many friends and family members in the Orlando area, his former roommate said.
Ortiz-Rivera was to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. His husband Ivan Dominguez, whom he met at Pulse, shared his grief with CNN.
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25
Martinez was a one of three Mexican nationals who died during the Pulse nightclub attack, according to reports from the Orlando Sentinel. He lived in Davenport, Fla., and worked as a housekeeping supervisor for APDC Services, a staffing company partner of Reunion Resorts in Kissimmee, according to the paper. Martinez had worked for the company for seven years and was remembered by his supervisor Alicia Amarro as “extremely dedicated, hard worker.” She told the paper “He was extremely friendly, very dedicated to his family, to his co-workers. … It is very difficult. Everybody loved him.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help return Martinez's body to Mexico. The Mexican Consulate told the Orlando Sentinel that it would help pay to transport victims' bodies home. However, Chavez's brother is an undocumented immigrant living in the United States and if he attends his brother's funeral in Mexico, he may not be able to return home. A relative spoke with MSNBC about the family's plight.
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Leroy "Roy" Valentin Fernandez was a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico and was at the club the night he died with Xavier Rosado who was also killed. The pair had started dating recently, according to the Associated Press.
Fernandez worked as a leasing agent, according to his Facebook profile. His friend Jennifer Rodriguez told the wire service that Fernandez "had finally found something he liked. He was taking care of his mom." She called Fernandez, who was also her hair stylist, one of her best friends.
"He was like a brother," she said. "He was just really very spirited and always happy, you know?"
On Facebook those close to Fernandez expressed grief. Christian Colon Vega recalled taking Fernandez to see his idol, Beyoncé. "You were very happy and you sang and danced the whole concert and when we got out you told me "Chris I want a poster" and I bought it for you and you were thrilled." Vega posted that he felt incomplete without Fernandez. "I can't with this pain," he wrote.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Serrano Rosado is survived by a young son, according to his employer Splash Bar of Panama City Beach, Florida. He worked at the bar as a male entertainer and go-go dancer under the name "Eman Valentino" and went by the same moniker on Facebook.
"He was part of Splash's extended family and leaves a small son behind," the venue wrote on its Facebook page. "He took his time to work with Flagpole, Grant, Vadim and some of the other dancers to improve their moves and was quick with a smile."
Serrano Rosado was at Pulse with Leroy Valentin Fernandez, who also died in the shooting. According to the Associated Press, the pair had started dating recently.
Valentin Fernandez posted a video of his boyfriend performing on May 31, just days before both were murdered.
Cory James Connell, 21
On Facebook his brother describes Connell as "a mans' man." He was at Pulse with friends and was reportedly celebrating his birthday when he was killed, according to the Orlando Sentinel. His friend Jerald Wright was also killed that night.
Connell worked at Publix and was studying sports journalism/broadcasting at Valencia Community College, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Edgewater High School and lived in Ocoee, Florida. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his family pay for funeral expenses. He was a football player and an assistant coach for the Orlando Anarchy Women's Football Team.
His brothers were having a hard time dealing with his death.
At Valencia college students and teachers gathered to remember the seven students who attended the school and were killed. Connell's teacher remembered him in an interview with WFTV9.
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Wright worked at Disney World as a seasonal worker in the Magic Kingdom, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "It's hard to understand, but the people with you work with at Disney, they are an amazing family," former co-worker Scott Dickison told the newspaper. "Jerry was a great guy to work with. He was quiet but really wonderful with all the guests. He always had a smile on his face." Wright's parents live in Miami, the newspaper reports. He was at Pulse to celebrate the 21st birthday of a friend, Cory Connell, who was also killed. Wright had a degree in hospitality management from Florida International University and also studied marketing at Northeastern University, according to his Linkedin profile. In addition to working at Disney, Wright worked in marketing and sales.
Christopher Sanfeliz, 24
Sanfeliz was living in Tampa and worked at JPMorgan Chase, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Gaither High School in Tampa and went to Hillsborough Community College.
Following his death, his brother Junior Sanfeliz set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his funeral expenses and for "inclusive programs at his High School"
His brother wrote that Sanfeliz was very active in marching band and would like to give back to his community. "Chris believed that people should be open and honest. He lived his life proud. Chris was kind, generous and had many, many friends," his brother wrote.
The siblings were very close. On Facebook his brother mourned his death, writing: "My heart is completely broken. ... Everyone knows the bond that I had with my brother, we would finish each other's sentences, knew each other's thoughts, and could sense when the other was upset. He was so strong, and was my rock through everything we ever went through. He was the light of my family and I know that he will continue to bless us and his light will be radiating down from a better place."
A vigil was held at Sanfeliz's high school to remember him. The marching band of which he was once a member saluted him.
Javier Jorge Reyes, 40
He went by the name "Harvey George Kings" on Facebook, the English translation of his first name. Originally from Guayama, PR he worked at Gucci after leaving Guess, where he worked for almost 13 years. On Facebook he wrote "So You Think You Can Dance" was his "favorite show everrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I think dance is the most beautiful art/sport." He had a sarcastic sense of humor, posting photos of himself lounging at the beach, writing: "life is so hard and difficult," or, "finally the sun's out," mocking Florida's regularly beautiful weather. He had a mini Schauzer he named Paolo Achü whom he called his "baby boy" and appeared to love dearly. Reyes had at least one sister and brother and two nephews he bragged about on Facebook, posting photos of their growth.
Reyes' wake was held Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. The wire service spoke with one woman who knew Reyes and was devastated by his death.
After the shooting, his best friend from high school, Yahina Figueroa, was desperately searching for news about him on Facebook. When she learned of his death she wrote in Spanish: "What sadness and pain I have in my heart. It's hard to accept that it's true Javier I'll miss you!"
Edward Sotomayor, 34
Edward Sotomayor Jr. was a resident of Sarasota, Fla., and a world traveler who worked at the gay travel agency AlAndChuck.travel. He had recently coordinated the first-ever gay cruise to Cuba, which took place in April, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Friends were grief-stricken to learn he had been killed. Al Ferguson, who identified himself as the travel agency's owner on Facebook, called this "one of the saddest days of my life" and wrote that he was "empty" upon hearing the list of victims read aloud at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
"What I will say, over and over again, was he was a person who said, 'We cannot be afraid,'" Ferguson told the Sentinel. "I know his friends are going to be the exact same way … we are not going to be afraid."
Sotomayor's friends remembered him on MSNBC.
Sotomayor sent Ferguson a video from the club the night he was killed. He is on the left.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Burt worked as a financial aid officer at Keiser University, a private school with campuses all over Florida and in Orlando. In a letter posted to the school's financial aid website Monday, school chancelor Arthur Keiser wrote, "Darryl was a highly respected member of the KU team, and his contributions to our students and his colleagues will not be forgotten."
He was a Jacksonville resident, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and a member of the Jacksonville Jaycees, a community service and professional networking organization, according to its Facebook page. "We Stand with Orlando as we mourn the loss of our own Darryl Roman Burt II," the group wrote on Facebook. "We are all deeply saddened by this tragic event and the loss of our Jaycee Brother." The group wrote that it was planning a fundraiser in his honor.
Best friend Mahogany Avent remembered Burt in the Sentinel as someone who "was always giving great advice to anyone who would listen."
Burt's god parents spoke with WLTX about their loss.
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Rios was a social worker from Brooklyn, NY, according to his Facebook page. He worked as a coordinator at True Care Home Health Care Agency and obtained his degree from St. Francis College in Brooklyn. On Monday night, family and friends mourned him on Facebook, pleading that his body be returned to New York.
His friend Christina Wilcox remembered him this way:
In all caps, his grandmother Cynthia Perez wrote, "WHEN IS IT GOING TO BE ENOUGH? BECAUSE OF ONE EVIL HUMAN BEING, I LOST A LOVING GRANDSON AND MY DAUGHTER IN LAW AND SON LOST THEIR SON. PLEASE GOD, EXPLAIN THIS TO ME!!R.I.P MY GRANDSON Enrique Rios YOU WILL BE MISSED BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN!!"
Before he died, Rios particpated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challege and posted this video to his Facebook page.
In New York City, those who lived in Rios' neighborhood remembered him.
Geraldo Ortiz Jimenez, 25
Jimenez went by the name "Drake" on Facebook and bears some resemblance to the famous singer. He was originally from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic but later lived in Puerto Rico, according to his Facebook profile.
On Facebook he wrote that he studied law at the Universidad Del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico and enjoyed dancing and listening to music and going out to clubs and to the movies. One Facebook friend Pitherson Matos was shocked to learn of his death. "Bro I can't believe it. This breaks my heart! What an unjust death!!"
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Menendez was originally from Manti, PR, and worked as a sales associate at Speedway, according to his Facebook profile. He studied healthcare management and was in a relationship, according to the social networking site.
His cousin mourned his death on Facebook, writing:
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Rivera was at Pulse with his husband, Luis Daniel Conde, with whom he went to high school in Puerto Rico and worked with at Alta Peluqueria D'Magazine Salon, a friend told the Orlando Sentinel.
On Tuesday there were flowers outside the Kissimmee salon, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Irene Rivera of Kissimmee, visited the salon on Tuesday to pay respects and told the paper the couple worked on the Belleza Latina pageant and were at Gay Days at Walt Disney World the previous weekend.
"Everyone knows about this beauty salon," Rivera told the paper. "They loved people. They lived to help people."
Following the attack, Rivera's brother, Baron Serrano, was desperate to find him. "We are here suffering, knowing nothing,” Serrano told The New York Times, explaining Rivera had been celebrating a friend’s birthday. “I cannot understand why they can’t tell me anything, because my brother is a very well-known person here in Orlando. He is a hairstylist, and everybody knows him.”
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Conde died with his husband and business partner Juan Rivera. He was a makeup artist while his husband cut hair, according to a client quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. Conde was originally from San Lorenzo, PR, and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page.
On Facebook a friend wrote that the couple would be together in death:
Yilmary "Mary" Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Solivan's family searched for her Sunday, but could not find her, according to The Washington Post. Solivan's sister, Joannette Martinez, told the paper it was Solivan's first time at the club and she was celebrating a visit from her brother-in-law. “No one’s told us anything,” Martinez told the paper as she sat on the sidewalk, her back to the hospital, after waiting for several hours.
Solivan was at the club with her brother-in-law, William Borges, who survived the attack and Jonathan Camuy Vega, who died trying to protect her, according to the Orlando Sentinel. She was a mother of two and married to race car driver Juan Borges, according to the paper.
Jonathan Camuy Vega, 24
Vega moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando to work for the Telemundo show "La Voz Kids," according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists of which he was a member. The organization offered its condolences to Vega's family. "As a member of the Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo family, I can tell you personally the news over the weekend has been difficult for everyone company wide," wrote NAHJ president Mekahlo Medina. "There was at least one other employee fatally shot in the attack as well," he wrote.
Cesar Conde, Chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, extended this thoughts and prayes to Vega's family. “He was a great assistant producer and had been working with us since “Yo Soy el Artista” and previously at Telemundo Puerto Rico. Most recently, he was working in audience management in the current season of “La Voz Kids.” Jonathan will be missed dearly...”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Vega died trying to save his friend Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan but she too died from her injuries.
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Honorato's brother searched for him Sunday, hoping the father of three would be found alive, but that was not the case. "I feel worthless there — I can't do anything 'cause I don't know if he is OK," his brother Jose Honorato told Tampa TV station WFTS before learning Miguel had been murdered. Honorato went out with friends to celebrate at Pulse. According to his Facebook profile, he worked with his brother at FajitaMex Mexican Catering in Orlando and lived in Apopka. He was mourned by family members and friends who expressed disbelief on Facebook, that such a violent act could take him from them.
Honorato was the owner of four restaurants, according to WOFL. The TV station spoke with Honorato's brother about his loss.
Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26
Montero lived with boyfriend and fellow victim Simon Fernandez at their home in Kissimmee with three chihuahuas and was also attending university. He and Fernandez had just returned from a trip to Niagara Falls, family members told the Orlando Sentinel.
As a child, Montero lived in the Dominican Republic, his cousin Yamilka Pimentel told the paper. "Oscar was a very sweet guy. Very sweet to everybody," she told the paper. "Every time he met somebody they would like him a lot. He was the type of guy who goes along with anybody."
On Facebook, he posted a video critical of Donald Trump and asked his friends to "please watch this." He was sensitive to the needs of animals, writing that a video of factory farming made him "want to become a vegetarian."
On Facebook, he listed Fernandez as his only family member.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Fernandez was attending university along with his partner, Aracena-Montero, who died with him at Pulse on Sunday. The pair had just purchased a house in Kissimmee, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Former co-worker Ivonne Irizarry told the paper Fernandez was driven. "He had to be the best, that was his thing," Irizarry said. "I cook the best, I clean the best, I work the best."
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Stanley Almodovar III would have been 24 this month. He lived in Clermont, FL, but was originally from Springfield, MA. Almodovar worked as a pharmacy technician and joked on his Instagram page that “drug life chose me.” He was shot in the chest, stomach, and side and died at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, according to the Sentinel. His mother, Rosalie Ramos, 51, told the paper she had clung to hope that he would survive. “I was hoping maybe [he was shot in] the hand or the leg," she said. "You can survive [a gunshot to] the leg,” she said. His aunt Yoly told the paper he had a promising future and was "an amazing person with a good soul."
Almodovar was with his friend Marissa Delgado the night he was shot. Delgado was struck multiple times and is now greiving the loss of her friend on Facebook.
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Nieves, who went to high school in Orlando and was originally from Puerto Rico, was a general manager at a check cashing business, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He bought his first house a month and a half ago and also wanted to help his mother find a new place to live, friends told the newspaper. "He was just a caring, loving guy — just like a big teddy bear," Ivonne Irizarry told the Sentinel. "He wanted to be the best at what he did, and he would work very hard to achieve that. So if he had to put in the long hours to get it right, he'd do it. If he had to stay to work a double [shift], he did it. That's why whatever job he went to, he became a manager."
Angel Luis Candelario Padro, 28
Candelario was an ophtalmic technician at the Florida Retina Institute, according to his Facebook page. A native of Guanica, Puerto Rico, Candelario lived in Chicago from 2014 until recently, when he moved to Orlando. He also worked as a Zumba instructor. He graduated from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Recinto Metropolitano with a degree in nursing and from the Illinois College of Optometry, where he studied to be a nurse technician. Candelario wrote on his Facebook page, "I'm an adventurous, easy going but responsible man that would like to live life completely."
His former Chicago co-worker remembered him in an interview with WGNTV.
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Captain Brown was a captain in the Army Reserve and a graduate of Florida A&M University, the school said. A Cocoa Beach, Florida, native, he graduated in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice and was a member of the ROTC. He served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, his friend explained on Twitter. Another friend quoted in the Orlando Sentinel described him as a "down to earth guy."
His mother spoke with WFTV9 about her tragic loss.
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
At just 21 years old, Martinez was among the youngest to die in the shooting. He was originally from Cuba.
Frankie Hernandez, 27
Frank Hernandez, who went by Frank Escalante, was originally from Weslaco, TX, and had moved to Florida two years ago, his family told KGRV-TV. "Frank H. Escalante was just an absolute incredible person inside and out. Due to the unfortunate event that took place in Orlando at Pulse on July 12th he is now a victim who lost his life during the shooting," said Linda Garza, who set up a GoFundMe page. Garza added that she, along with all his family and many friends would greatly appreciate any type of help we can get for funeral expenses. Thank you all so much. Again, any type of help is greatly appreciated by his family. God bless you all." He also sported a tattoo that says "love has no gender."
Frank is survived by his partner Brett Rigas who was with him at Pulse the night he died. Rigas spoke with CNN about surviving the massacre.
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Henry lived in Orlando and is survived by his two children.
"I miss him. I love him,'' Henry's boyfriend, Hernandez said in an email. "I took care of him, and he took care of me. Such a loving spirit. I'll always have him in my heart.
"He kept many aspects of his life private from family. He felt that there was no need for them to know what he does in his life. His priority was to make sure his kids were taken care of.''
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Ayala was originally from San German, Puerto Rico, and lived in Kissimmee, Florida,according to his Facebook page. He attended InterAmerican San German and worked at OneBlood, the Florida blood bank that was overwhelmed Sunday by people looking todonate blood for the victims of the shooting. He was a biologics assistant. A friend, Nailea Disla, wrote on Facebook, "Your soul lives forever my friend. You touched many lives with your energy, always had a smile on your face, a joke to make and stories to tell. Shine bright like a diamond Rodolfo Ayala."
His workplace grieved his death as co-workers remembered him in interviews with WOFL.