Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino
On early Sunday morning, 49 people were killed and countless more injured when a gunman armed with an AR-15 and a pistol opened fire at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Flo. The attack on the was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and it fell on the club’s Latin Night. At least 32 of the people killed were Latino and young, the very same individuals who comprise our readership. These were our brothers and sisters. mitú stands in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the entire LGBTQ community.
Below we’ve compiled profiles on those that have been lost. It’s by no means complete, and we’ll be updating as more information comes to light.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
“He was always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor, who identified himself as his cousin, told the Associated Press.
Edward Sotomayor worked for Al and Chuck, a travel agency that catered to the LGBTQ community. His cousin told the AP that Edward was a charismatic and caring man.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Stanley Almodovar III was “an amazing with a good soul,” according to his aunt, who spoke with the Orlando Sentinel. Almodovar III was a pharmacy technician working towards completing his degree in pharmacy.
Prior to Saturday night’s horrific events, Almodovar had posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing. “I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever,” Rosalie Ramos, his mother, told the local paper.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo lived in Cleveland but was visiting family in Orlando. Ocasio-Capo was a dancer who was coming into his own as an adult, according to his cousin, Leonarda Flores, who spoke to Fusion.
“[He] did not care, he loved himself and he loved others,” Flores told the news outlet, referencing the homophobia Ocasio-Ocampo experienced. “He was very open, he lived who he was. He knew he was beautiful, he knew it and he flaunted it.”
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
“He was always this amazing person (and) and he was like a big brother to me,” Robert Guerrero, his cousin, told the Associated Press. “He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew.”
Juan Ramon Guerrero worked as a telemarketer but had enrolled at the University of Central Florida; he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study but was glad to be enrolled in school.
Guerrero came out to his family earlier this year. According to his cousin, his family was “very accepting. As long as he was happy, they were okay with it.”
Guerrero’s boyfriend, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, was also among the victims.
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen was originally from Detroit but moved to the Orlando area in the last year. His boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, was also one of the victims. He was the son of Christine Leinonen, the mother who spoke to various media outlets in tears wanting to know what had happened to her son.
According to ABC News, Christopher Andrew Leinonen established a gay-straight alliance at his high school, for which he was given a humanitarian award.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
“He was very artistic,” Orlando Gonzalez, his cousin, told the New York Times.
Described as “a goofball,” Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera was originally from Puerto Rico and is survived by his husband.”His husband called me in the morning,” Gonzalez said. “He was hysterical trying to find him.”
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz was called “Peter Ommy” by his friends and family, and that’s how he identified as on Facebook. Prior to his tragic death, Gonzalez-Cruz worked for UPS and had lived some time in Africa.
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 13, 2016
“He was always a friend you could call,” Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal Studios, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was always open and available.”
“Every interaction with guest, he had a smile on his face and always goofy and cheerful. Fun guy to be around,” Linnette Martinez, another co-worker of Vielma’s, told mitú. She describes him as “very sweet and fun.”
The 22-year-old was an attraction operator in the Harry Potter section of the park. Upon learning of his death, Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted her condolences, seen above.
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
“She was such a great person and so full of life,” Starr Shelton, an ex-girlfriend, recounted to the Orlando Sentinel. ” I can truly say heaven has gained an angel.
Morris, who went by KJ, had recently moved to Orlando from Hawaii. She was a bouncer at the club.
“She was just the sweetest person,” added Narvell Benning, a college friend. “I can’t think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face. I’m so thankful for the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal.”
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice worked as an accountant in Orlando. He texted his mother, Mina Justice, as the act of terror was taking place.
“Mommy I love you,” he texted.
The two communicated intermittently until he stopped responding. Mina Justice would eventually get news that her son was among the victims.
“Going To Try &Get Some Rest. Please Keep The Prayers Coming,” Mina Justice wrote on Facebook, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “The Prayers Of The Righteous Availeth Much. We Will Get Through This Tragedy . One Day At A Time. Sleep Tight Eddie , Mommy Loves You Son.”
A GoFundMe page was set up in honor of Justice.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II (second from left in picture above) was a financial aid officer at Keiser University in Jacksonville, Flo., who was working towards his master’s degree. According to people who knew him, he was a positive individual whose optimism rubbed off on others.
“He always had a smile on his face and was a very nice guy,” Lisamarie Winslow, president of KU’s Jacksonville Campus told the Florida Times-Union. “He definitely leaves an impression and had a big personality and he is missed.”
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, or DeeDee, was working at Pulse when she was killed, according to a woman claiming to be her aunt on Facebook. It’s unclear whether Drayton was an actual Pulse employee.
“While keeping the others in Orlando in prayer, keep my brother, his wife and both our families in your prayers,” Patricia Drayton Banks wrote on her Facebook page. “My neice, Deonka “Dee Dee” Drayton was killed in this horrible tragedy. Senseless. She was at work !!!. ??????. R.I.P Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.??✌✌????”
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Laureano, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was known and beloved in Orlando for his drag persona, Alanis Laurell. In a Reddit thread dedicated to Laureano’s gorgeous drag performances, one commenter bid him good-bye with, “Go make the heavens beautiful.”
Here’s Laureano, as Alanis, performing at Miami’s Azucar nightclub:
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Jean Carlos and his partner Luis Daniel, known to friends as Danny, died together at Pulse. Jean, who was originally from Puerto Rico, is remembered as being a happy, warm, funny person who loved his job at Perfumania, where he met and fell in love with Danny.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jean’s partner, Danny, was also originally from Puerto Rico, and is remembered by friends as a “protector, confidant and hero.” Growing up in a small town, Danny is remembered as always marching to the beat of his own drum, and was bullied as a result, but that didn’t stop him into growing up into a compassionate and much-loved person.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Amanda was dancing at Pulse with her best friend Mercedez, who also died during the attack. She had been recording herself dancing on Snapchat when the shots first rang out. Her sister, Ashley, shared her heartbreak on Facebook.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Martin’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of his friends and his life in Orlando. Originally from Puerto Rico, Martin’s Facebook bio described him as a “fighter” who aimed to soar.
Con la family en Orlando
Posted by Martin B’nitez on Saturday, June 11, 2016
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Xavier was a dancer who worked at Disney Live! and performed at the annual Atlanta Bachata Fest.
According to Buzzfeed, he is remembered by Splash Bar, an old employer, as always happy to help those around him.
“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,” they reported.
Others took to social media to lament his passing.
“I writhed in bed for hours in my head wrapped in all of this,” friend Matt Molandes said, according to Buzzfeed. “Sleep was nearly impossible and waking up to the news that Xavier E. Serrano has passed, it’s soul crushing. My heart aches for his family and Wilma Lozano and their beautiful baby boy. I’m am so happy you are no longer in pain, but this entire world feels the impact of you not being here. Look over us, watch over us, we live in your name.”
He is survived by a young son.
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Miguel’s brother, Enrique, took to Facebook to reminisce about their trips to Mexico and to Tennessee, noting that Miguel loved mango lemonades from Auntie Anne’s.
R.I.P Brother Miguel Honorato, man i wouldve never thought this would happen to you… I remember the good old times…
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Brooklyn native Enrique is survived by his mother and five siblings. His mother shared that Enrique had been in Orlando for vacation and has set up a GoFundMe page to help with transportation and funeral costs.
The 25-year-old was on vacation in Orlando. He studied social work at St. Francis College and was working at True Care Home Health Care Agency at the time of his untimely passing.
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Originally from Puerto Rico, Juan owned a spa and salon in Kissimmee, Florida.
“It is very hard to deal with this and the worse pain is the pain of being here without knowing what happened to him,” Baron Serrano, his brother, told the New York Times as he waited at the hospital to find out what had happened to Juan.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Originally from Manati, Puerto Rico, Gilberto had come to Orlando to pursue his studies in healthcare management. He was at Pulse with his friend, “Peter Ommy” Cruz, who was also killed during the shooting.
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
A supervisor at Gucci, Javier is remembered by his close friend as having a contagious smile and “making me feel like a beautiful woman and mother even on days I couldn’t see it.”
Today I woke up to the news I spent all night hoping not to hear! An old and dear friend lost his precious life in the…
Javier had studied tourism at the Academia San Antonio de Guayama in Puerto Rico. A co-worker took to Facebook to thank Javier for his humor and “for all the talks and advice on pursuing my passion.”
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Cory was studying Sports Journalism and Broadcasting at Valencia Community College, and is described by family members as a “superhero.” His family has taken to his Facebook page to express their sense of loss and how much he meant to them.
Cory Connell im doing my best to be as strong as i can man. But being here without you man. Its tough. I can you feel…
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
He was still figuring who he was, and prior to his passing, he’d started developing new passions
“He mentioned to me that he wanted to start taking pictures, he had a passion for photography,” Christopher Long, his uncle, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was just real special.”
On Facebook, he tended to express self-love and positivity.
i love myself so much right now i really really do ??????
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
On Monday, Telemundo tweeted their condolences.
— Noticias Telemundo (@TelemundoNews) June 13, 2016
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
A graduate of East Carolina University, Shane managed and sang in the Orlando-based Frequency Band. His Facebook bio describes him as an “ordinary guy living an extra-ordinary life using my God-given gift to navigate through this journey.”
Here is Shane performing with his band:
A little snippet from our shoot last night.
Thank You All ?
Posted by Frequency Band on Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Though young, Michigan native Tevin owned his own business. His brother Chavis described him as “very ambitious,” telling the Orlando Sentinel that “[w]hatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal.”
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Oscar’s cousin remembered him on Facebook as being a humble and inspiring young man who will be missed dearily. Oscar was at Pulse with his partner Simon, and the two were remembered by a mutual friend who shared that she will miss “the arepas you made for me with so much love, our conversations” and the advice that they shared.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Simon, who lost his life alongside Oscar, leaves behind a Facebook page that offers a portrait of a young man who loved the beach and who adored and was adored by his family and friends. According to a friend’s post, Simon and Oscar had recently found a home together. Another friend posted that their passing has taken a huge toll, calling them both “princes” and promising that they’d never be forgotten.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Brenda was a mother of 12 who had beat cancer not once, but twice. She was at Pulse with her son, who survived the shooting. The Orlando Sentinel reports that, that night, Brenda had been sharing videos from the club on Facebook, showing happy couples dancing to Latin music.
Our hearts are with you, Orlando. Don’t forget to click share.