CRIME

What We Know About The Orlando Shooting Victims

Authorities have now identified all of the people killed in Sunday morning's shooting.

13/06/2016 1:51 PM AEST | Updated 15/06/2016 10:59 PM AEST
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The deadliest mass shooting in American history took place Sunday morning, when a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. Police fatally shot the suspect.

Orlando police have identified all of the victims and have released their names after notifying their next of kin.

The city of Orlando posted the names and ages of victims as they were identified to this website. Below, what we know about them:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Edward Sotomayor Jr. was a well-known figure in the gay travel industry, working for ALandCHUCK.travel, according to the Chicago Tribune. Al Ferguson, owner of the company and Sotomayor's boss, told the paper Sotomayor had recently helped organize the first gay cruise to Cuba.

"He had traveled to so many places in the world," Ferguson said. "He loved travel."

A man named David Sotomayor, who identified himself as Edward's cousin, told The Associated Press that Edward was known for wearing a top hat on his cruises.

"He was just always part of the fun," he said.

Several people posted tributes to Sotomayor on social media after Sunday's shooting:

Angela Taylor, a reporter for WESH in Orlando, tweeted that Sotomayor died in the hospital after a friend said he took a "bullet in back getting his boyfriend out safely." 

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26

Oscar Aracena

Oscar Aracena-Montero was at Pulse with his boyfriend, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, according to his cousin Joel Aracena. Carrillo, 31, also died in the attack.

Fernandez and Aracena-Montero had been together for a couple of years and spent as much time together as possible, Joel Aracena told The Huffington Post. They lived together and both worked in a McDonald’s in Orlando. Aracena-Montero was a manager, his cousin said.

“They wanted to be together for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Aracena-Montero was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States when he was 18, his cousin said. He planned to bring his mother to the country next month to live with him, Joel Aracena said.

“It was like a light when he came into the room,” he said. “He was always smiling. He finds ways to make everybody happy.”

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Facebook/Associated Press
Co-workers described Simon Carrillo as a thoughtful person.

Simon Carrillo was at Pulse with his boyfriend, Oscar Aracena-Montero, who also died in the attack.

Aracena-Montero’s cousin told HuffPost that the couple worked together in a McDonald’s. They’d recently bought a home in Kissimmee, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“They never fight. They were always together,” Joel Aracena told HuffPost.

Co-workers told the Sentinel that Carrillo was a thoughtful person who brought cakes to celebrate their birthdays and carefully saved money to afford trips to places like the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Antonio Brown, 29

LinkedIn
Antonio Brown was an Army captain.

Antonio Brown was a human resources manager for Lowe’s in Orlando, according to his LinkedIn account.

Prior to that, Brown served in the Army and rose to the rank of captain. Retired Maj. Davy Godfrey served with Brown from 2010 to 2011 in Kuwait, where Brown oversaw some postal operations and other logistical duties.

Brown challenged the limits of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with comments to other soldiers indicating that he was gay, Godfrey recalled.

“He was testing the waters to see if the Army was ready [to change]. It felt like he was doing a sociological experiment,” Godfrey told HuffPost. “For years the Army was not kind to homosexuals. We respected Tony as a soldier. He was devoted to his work.”

President Barack Obama dropped the policy banning openly gay members of the armed forces in July 2011.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Stanley Almodovar was a pharmacy technician who was planning on going home to his mother after spending Saturday night out at Pulse, the AP reports.

He lived in Clermont, Florida, but originally hailed from Springfield, Massachusetts, according to his Facebook page.

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 

Juan Guerrero worked as a telemarketer and was a student at the University of Central Florida, a cousin told the AP

‘‘He was always this amazing person. He was like a big brother to me,’’ Robert Guerrero said of his cousin. ‘‘He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew.’’

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Guerrero had gone to Pulse with his boyfriend, Christopher Leinonen, who also was killed. 

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Pinktober💖

A photo posted by Dru™ (@thedruproject) on

Christopher Leinonen, known to friends and family as Drew, was active in the gay community through his life, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He worked as a licensed mental health counselor and started a gay-straight alliance while in high school, according to his mother.

Leinonen was at Pulse with his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, who also was killed. Family members said they were devoted partners and "soulmates" who'd planned on getting married. They are being remembered in a joint funeral.

“They were soulmates. You can tell by how they looked at each other. It’s a little comforting that they died together. ... If it’s not a funeral, they were going to have a wedding together," Guerrero's sister told Time.

 

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Eric Ortiz lived in Miami but was originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, according to his Facebook page.

Ortiz had worked in merchandise management for Toys R Us and Ross, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Ortiz's former roommate, Abismel Colon Gomez, told the newspaper that Ortiz held a bachelor's degree in communications from Universidad Central de Bayamon.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

According to Peter Gonzalez-Cruz's Facebook page, he was an employee of UPS.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Fusion reports Luis Ocasio-Capo was a dancer who lived in Cleveland and was visiting friends and family in Orlando.

“He was just basically blooming, just becoming a man basically,” his cousin Leonarda Flores, 27, told Fusion. 

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Luis Vielma studied at Seminole State College of Florida and had been an employee at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. 

J.K. Rowling said Vielma had worked on a Harry Potter ride at Universal.

“I can’t stop crying,” the author wrote on Twitter

Messages were left for Vielma on Universal Orlando Resort’s Facebook page, and Universal Orlando issued a statement on his death:

A statement from Seminole State College revealed Vielma was an emergency medical services student. He was enrolled in a CPR class this summer and had already signed up for classes for the fall semester. 

Kimberly Morris, 37

Kimberly "KJ" Morris was a bouncer at Pulse, according to The Daily Beast's Katie Zavadski.

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Eddie Justice sent a text message to his mom at 2 a.m. on Sunday. “Mommy I love you,” he wrote. “In club they shooting.”

Mina Justice, who’d been fast asleep when she received her son’s first text, told the AP that she immediately tried calling her son, but got no response. A few seconds later, he sent her a text message again to say that he was trapped in a Pulse restroom.

“Call police,” he typed. A minute later: “I’m gonna die.”

She called 911 and the dispatcher asked her to stay on the line. At 2:39 a.m., Justice texted again. “He’s coming,” he wrote.

“He’s in the bathroom with us,” Justice said in a text a few minutes later. “He’s a terror.”

That was one of the last texts his mom received.

Justice was an accountant who “liked to eat and work out” and to “make everyone laugh,” his mom recalled.

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 

Anthony Laureano had posted a message on Facebook on Saturday night saying “he was off to Pulse for a night of fun and dancing with his roommates,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

That was the last time his family heard from him.

His cousin Ana Figueroa told the newspaper that both the roommates had been shot. One was in critical condition, she said, while the other was in stable condition.

Laureano lived in Orlando but identified his hometown as San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to his Facebook page.

A relative named Lucas Daniel Acosta D'oleo shared a photograph of Laureano on social media on Sunday, asking for prayers.

Amanda Alvear, 25

Amanda Alvear, an aspiring nurse, had been using Snapchat to document her night at Pulse when the shooting began. Her videos began normally: loud, pulsing music and dancing bodies, people raising drinks to the camera, big grins on their faces.

But the last video she posted was different. It was a close-up of Alvear’s face, her brows furrowed in worry, as a quick succession of loud gunshots rung out in the background.

Brian Alvear said his sister had been at the club with her friend Mercedez Flores, who was also confirmed dead. 

He told The Ledger that his sister had taken refuge in a restroom at Pulse during the rampage.

“Fuck today, goodnight,” he wrote on Facebook early Monday, shortly after confirming Alvear's death.

Earlier, he thanked friends and people on social media for their support.

“I can't explain how loved my family feels right now in these trying times,” he wrote. 

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Mercedez Flores had lived in Davenport, Florida, but was originally from Queens, New York, according to her Facebook page.

The 26-year-old, who worked at Target, had gone to Pulse with her friend Amanda Alvear.

“We did everything together,” Flores’ friend Josean Garcia wrote on Facebook early Monday. “I love you sis.”

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 

Martin Benitez was at Pulse with his partner on Saturday night, according to his friend Jc Cappas.

“I will always love you,” Cappas wrote on Facebook. “Thank you for all the best moments.”

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon was at Pulse with his partner, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, who was also confirmed dead.

“Just heartbroken, devastated, broken and feeling like this is some awful nightmare from which one will awake," Wilson-Leon’s cousin, Siclaly M. Santiago-Leon, wrote on Facebook. "Please hug your loved ones tight. Stop this violence. This madness. Love one another.”

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Jean Perez was at Pulse with his partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon.

“Please keep praying for my family, so that the Lord gives us strength in this hard moment,” Kristal Zavala, Perez’s cousin, wrote on Facebook when confirming the news of Perez's death. “[Jean] you will forever be missed. Love you always.”

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 

Shane Tomlinson
Shane Tomlinson was the lead singer of a music group.

Shane Tomlinson was the lead singer of an Orlando-based musical group named Frequency Band, according to his Facebook page. 

Tomlinson graduated from East Carolina University in 2003, college officials told WNCT-TV

Franky Jimmy De Jesus Velazquez, 50

Jimmy De Jesus via Facebook/Reuters
Jimmy De Jesus worked as a visual merchandiser for Forever 21.

Known as Jimmy De Jesus to friends and family, the 50-year-old worked for Forever 21 as a visual merchandiser and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook account.

De Jesus hailed from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and had studied at the Interamerican University on the island.

Cory James Connell, 21

Facebook
Cory Connell studied sports journalism and broadcasting at Valencia Community College.

Cory Connell was at Pulse with his girlfriend, Paula Blanco, who was shot in the arm, The Wall Street Journal reported.

As the gunman opened fire, Connell pushed Blanco and one of her friends behind a couch, according to a friend of his who spoke with Blanco. 

“He loved helping people,” said Chris Richards, who’d been friends with Connell since their second year of high school. “He was one of the most caring and hardworking people I’ve ever known.” 

HIs brother Ryan Connell wrote that he was "the superhero of our family" and "a family man through and through" after announcing Connell's death on Facebook.

Friends responded with an outpouring of praise, saying that Connell was "nice to everyone he came across" and "always had a positive attitude."

Connell studied sports journalism and broadcasting at Valencia College in Orlando while working full time at a Publix. In the fall, however, he planned to begin training as an emergency medical technician and, eventually, a fireman, Richards told HuffPost.

“You would have been a great firefighter,” Richards wrote on Facebook. 

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 

Deonka Drayton grew up near Eastover, South Carolina, but moved to Orlando several years ago, South Carolina's WLTX reports. Drayton's friends called her "Dee Dee," according to The Guardian. A woman who identified herself as Drayton's aunt posted on Facebook that Drayton was at work at the time of the shooting.

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Jason Josaphat
Jason Josaphat called his mother from the nightclub after the shooting had started.

Jason Josaphat called his mother from Pulse after the shooting began, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

His relatives told the newspaper that he’d begun studying computer science at Valencia Community College in Orlando and was passionate about photography. 

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 25

National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Jonathan Camuy worked for the Telemundo show "La Voz Kids."

Jonathan Camuy worked for the television program “La Voz Kids,” which airs on Telemundo and is produced in Florida. He worked with the network in his native Puerto Rico, according to a statement from NBC/Universal Telemundo Enterprises Chairman Cesar Conde.

“He was a great assistant producer,” Conde’s statement said. “Jonathan will be missed dearly.”

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Darryl Burt lived in Jacksonville and worked as a financial aid officer at Keiser University, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He was a member of the Jacksonville Jaycees, a young professionals group, according to Shawn DeVries, who is president of the group.

"He was the type of person that was always willing to help," DeVries said. "If someone needed anything he'd usually just ask for the details, where, when and what are the deadlines."

The Jacksonville Jaycees posted a tribute to Burt on its Facebook page, noting the group plans to host a fundraiser to assist Burt's family.

Burt had previously worked as a manager at McDonald's, Jacksonville station WJXT reported. 

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Jerry Wright

Jerry Wright worked at Walt Disney World, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and was at the nightclub to celebrate a friend’s birthday. 

Friends on Facebook said that he worked in the Main Street section of the Magic Kingdom and had previously worked in Tomorrowland.

"Words can't describe the sadness I feel right now, that someone I knew, someone I worked with and called a friend was taken by this tragedy here in Orlando, Florida,” Scott Dickison said on Facebook.

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Facebook/Associated Press

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to Florida a few years ago, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He studied health care management at Ana G. Mendez University and was a sales associate for a Speedway convenience store, according to his Facebook page. 

“This is news you just don't want to wake up to, but it has been confirmed that our cousin was victim of this shooting,” Maribel Silva wrote on Facebook.

Enrique Rios Jr., 25

Facebook/Associated Press
Enrique Rios was visiting Florida for a friend's birthday.

Enrique Rios lived in Brooklyn, New York, but had traveled to Florida for a friend’s birthday, according to News 12.

Rios was a social worker and regularly attended the Greater Free Gift Baptist Church in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Friends and family shared messages on Facebook that showed he was a deeply spiritual person.

“He had a love in God that was phenomenal,” Bishop William Whitaker told AM New York.

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 

A recent immigrant to the United States from Cuba, Barrios Martinez lived with his father in the Orlando area and is one of the shooting's youngest victims.

According to Café Fuerte, a Miami news website that focuses on Cuban affairs, Martinez's mother still lives in Cuba and is in the process of obtaining a visa to attend her son's funeral.

Martinez's cousin, Alvaro Alvarez, told Café Fuerte the family is full of "rage and anguish" over the death, adding that his cousin and all those at the club have a right to "live without apology."

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Miguel Angel Honorato was a father of three who lived in the city of Apopka, about 30 minutes from Orlando. He had gone to Pulse with some friends, his brother Jose Honorato said.

Messages of condolences began pouring in Monday on Jose's Facebook page as news spread that his brother was one of the victims of the attack. 

On Monday, Jose posted a photo of his brother, writing: "come home bro im waiting for you."

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 

Joel Rayon Paniagua, a lover of dance, was meeting friends at Pulse to do just that, his close friend Lorena Barragon told the Orlando Sentinel.

"He was the best," Barragan said. "He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better.

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 

Juan Chevez-Martinez was a housekeeping supervisor with ADPC Services, the Orlando Sentinel reported, and was remembered by his coworkers as a "hard worker" who was "extremely dedicated" and "extremely friendly." 

He went to Pulse for a "carefree night," a family friend told Fox 13.

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

 

Luis Daniel Conde ran a beauty salon in Kissimmee, Florida, with Juan Pablo Rivera Valasquez, who also was killed. They had gone to the same high school in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"They loved people. They lived to help people," Irene Rivera, a patron of the salon, told the paper.

The pair had been business partners for more than a decade, and were "exceptional people," Conde's sister told the Tampa Bay Times.

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez was a hairstylist and ran a beauty salon in Kissimmee with Luis Daniel Conde, who also died in the shooting. They had been at the club celebrating a friend's birthday.

"They were my good mentors. They had great careers," Luis Ruiz, a friend of the couple, told the Tampa Bay Times. "They weren’t just the type who only went out, only went to clubs. They were getting degrees.”

The salon donated free services to those who had been victims of domestic violence, one customer told the Orlando Sentinel. "We lost good individuals who would have contributed more to this world," she said.

 

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Javier "Javi" Jorge-Reyes, originally from Puerto Rico, was described by friends as "very humble," "a lovely friend" and "always positive," according to the Orlando Sentinel.

He worked in sales at a Gucci store and friends said he was "proud to be Latino" and liked to go out.

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 

A leasing agent in Orlando, Leroy Fernandez was at Pulse with his partner Xavier Serrano, who also died in the shooting.

Fernandez was a performer who always "filled our offices with music," friend Yolanda Quinones-Perez told the Orlando Sentinel.

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Xavier Serrano, also known by his stage name Eman Valentino, was a dancer and choreographer.

“Xavier... I dunno what to even say... My heart is completely broken,” wrote friend Cherilyn Matthews on Facebook. “You will take a piece of my heart with you.” 

 

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 

Tevin Crosby owned a marketing firm in Michigan and had flown to Orlando after a visit with family. At his North Carolina high school, from which he graduated in 2010, he was hailed as an "unsung hero" with "integrity and determination," according to a profile in the Charlotte Observer.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 

Brenda Marquez McCool, a single mother of 11, was at Pulse with one of her sons. She fought cancer twice and was "the sweetest, lovingest person in the world," daughter Khalisha Pressley told NBC News.

In a post on Facebook, actor Wilson Cruz called her a "fighter" and a "fierce advocate for her LGBT family."

McCool's son, 21-year-old Isaiah Henderson, was gay and the pair often went to dance at the nightclub. He survived the attack.

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27  

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, originally from Puerto Rico, was a general manager at a check-cashing store, the New York Daily News reports.

"He wanted to be the best at what he did, and he would work very hard to achieve that," a friend wrote in his obituary. "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."

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala worked as a biologics assistant at a blood bank in Orlando, according to People. A coworker remembered him as a "very, very vibrant person ... dedicated to his work." He had recently been promoted to a supervisor.

Friends describe him as "a little sassy," but "always funny [and] always smiling." They told the Orlando Sentinel that Ayala loved to dance and was at Pulse for Latin Night.

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24   

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, known to friends and family as Mary, was originally from Puerto Rico.

She was out at Pulse with friends and her husband, race car driver Juan Borges, who survived the attack. Borges described her as "happy all the time" and "crazy about her kids" in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

She leaves behind two children, including a 3-month-old son, according to an obituary.

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 

Angel L. Candelario-Padro had moved to Orlando in March for "a fresh start," according to The New York Times. He had just gotten a new job as a technician at the Florida Retina Institute and had worked as a nurse technician and Zumba instructor.

"He walked into the room and you just lit up," a former supervisor said. "We’re trying to remember him as this lively person."

Frank Hernandez, 27

Frank Hernandez, who went by Frank Escalante, had moved to Orlando "to make a better future for himself," his best friend wrote on a GoFundMe page. "Frank ... was just an incredible person inside and out," Linda Garza wrote.

He worked at a Calvin Klein store in Orlando and was at Pulse with his boyfriend.

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 

Paul Terrell Henry, a Chicago native, had two daughters and loved music, according to a profile by The New York Times. His boyfriend described him as having “a loving spirit,” whose priority was to "make sure his kids were taken care of."

A former coworker at a Orange Lake Resorts told the Orlando Sentinel "he was the life of the call center."

"He always would make sure he would say hello," Danielle Biggers said. "He just was over the top and made everybody smile."

Christopher Joseph SanFeliz, 24

Christopher Joseph SanFeliz's brother Junior remembered him as being "beloved by many" and a "rock through everything [the pair] went through" in a memorial posted to Facebook.

"My heart is completely broken," his brother wrote. "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."

He worked at a JPMorgan Chase branch and lived in the Tampa area.

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 

Akyra Monet Murray, the youngest victim of the shooting, was in Orlando with her family to celebrate her high school graduation, which took place last week in Philadelphia. She was an honors student and graduated third in her class. 

She had plans to head to college on a full basketball scholarship.

 

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, called Drake by friends and family, had flown into Orlando last Friday from his native Puerto Rico for a concert featuring Selena Gomez.

His Facebook page lists his profession as a dancer and actor.

Authorities also identified the above victims. We will post more information as it becomes available.

Also on HuffPost
Orlando Shooting Vigils

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