One was a dancer. One had just started college. A third worked at the Harry Potter theme park. Another was a mother who had survived cancer twice and had gone out to have fun with her son. And a bouncer who made everyone around her light up. And two men who had loved each other for 13 years.
These are some of the 49 people who were murdered while attending a regular Latin night at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Most, though by no means all, of the victims were Latino men in their twenties and thirties. After their names were released by the city of Orlando, their families and friends took to social media to remember people who were, above all, good, kind and loving.
Below are the names of the victims who have been publicly identified, along with some of what we know about the lives they led.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Ocasio-Capo, who went by Omar, 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 in a phone interview. “He wasn’t fully an adult.”
While Ocasio-Capo had faced homophobia in the past, Flores said, “he did not care, he loved himself and he loved others. He was very open, he lived who he was. He knew he was beautiful, he knew it and he flaunted it.”
When the media first posted the photo of the shooter—also named Omar—Flores said she broke down. “I didn’t feel hatred, I just felt sorry for the dude,” she said. “May God forgive his soul.”
She said she was making t-shirts for her whole family with a photo of her cousin on them.
Edward Sotomayor, Jr., 34
One of the owners of Al & Chuck Travel, Al Ferguson, went to the hospital where Sotomayor was taken. On his Facebook page, he called it “one of the saddest days of my life.”
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Almodovar was a pharmacy technician living in Clermont, FL, according to his Facebook page. He was originally from Springfield, MA. Following the announcement of his murder, friend after friend took to that page to pay tribute to him.
“You made an impact on everyone that you came around,” one wrote. “A good person and friend.”
“I’m so sorry, my angel,” another said.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, and Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Guerrero (left) and his boyfriend Leinonen (right), who went by Drew, died together at Pulse.
The Associated Press spoke to Guerrero’s cousin about his life:
Robert Guerrero said his cousin worked as a telemarketer and in recent months he started attending college at the University of Central Florida. Guerrero said his cousin didn’t quite know what he wanted to study, but he was happy to be in school. And he was happy in a relationship with a person his relatives came to regard as a member of the family, Guerrero said.”He was always this amazing person (and) he was like a big brother to me,” he 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.”
On Leinonen’s Facebook page, several friends wrote tributes. “The thought of not seeing you smile or being able to catch up with you both hurts my heart,” one said.
Before he was declared dead by city officials, Leinonen’s mother Christine spoke on several TV programs about the horror of not knowing whether her son was dead or alive. They talked on the phone the night before: “I left him with ‘I love you,'” she said.
The couple will now have a joint funeral, and the GoFundMe page their families started to fund it has already received more than $22,000 in contributions.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Ortiz was a native of Puerto Rico who lived in Miami, according to his Facebook page. Elvyn Rivera, who said in a Facebook post that Ortiz was his best friend, called him “my great friend, teacher, adviser and partner of party.”
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Gonzalez worked for UPS, according to his Facebook page. In a heartbreaking post on her own Facebook account, a woman who said she was Gonzalez’s mother wrote that she was feeling “a pain so immense.”
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Vielma worked in the Harry Potter section of the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. The night before he was killed, he posted a picture to the page of himself and a group of people. “True friends who become family,” the caption read.
After Vielma’s connection to Harry Potter emerged, Potter’s creator, JK Rowling, mourned his murder on Twitter.
Kimberly Morris, 37
Morris, who had recently moved to Orlando from Hawaii, was a bouncer at Pulse. She was a fan of basketball and MMA fighting.
“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,” her ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the Orlando Sentinel.
“You lit up that dance floor every night with your fresh moves KJ Morris,” one friend wrote on Facebook. “My dancing daddy. Life is so fragile. Our world is so deeply damaged. Love and light.”
A friend who didn’t want their name used sent Fusion an email about Morris: “KJ and I were just starting to get close. I had never met anyone like her before. The last text I got from her was at 1:51 am. She would always text me to let me know she got home okay. When she didn’t, I knew something was wrong. She will always be remembered and greatly missed.”
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Justice worked as an accountant and lived in downtown Orlando, his mother Mina Justice told The Associated Press. In interviews with the Palm Beach Post and the AP, Mina described a harrowing text message conversation in the last few hours of his life. “Mommy I love you,” Justice texted her. “He’s coming. I’m gonna die.” He said he was one of the hostages trapped in the club’s bathroom with the shooter.
Later, Mina posted a Facebook tribute to her son. “Please Keep The Prayers Coming,” she wrote. “Mommy Loves You Son.”
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
Laureano was a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. “You are and you’ll be special one in my life—and in the lives of all your friends,” one friend wrote in Spanish in a Facebook tribute.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 and Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Mendez Perez (left), who was from Puerto Rico, died alongside his partner, Wilson-Leon (right), according to Facebook posts and reporting by the Orlando Weekly. “I’ll remember you forever,” one friend wrote on his Facebook page in Spanish about Mendez Perez, while another added, “I can’t believe this.”
Amanda Alvear, 25
Alvear was from Puerto Rico but moved to Florida at a young age.
Her Snapchat story from the club on the night of the shooting went viral. At first it shows her and her friends partying and dancing. The last shot is of Alvear’s face, looking concerned, as the rat-a-tat of gunshots is heard loudly in the background.
“I can’t explain how loved my family feels right now in these trying times,” her brother Brian posted on Facebook.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Flores, who was friends with Alvear, went to the club with her, according to The Daily Mirror. She was from Queens, New York and lived in Davenport, Florida.
“It is not fair that such a horrific act of hate would take the life of a beautiful soul,” her brother posted on Facebook. “No words can describe the pain my family is going through… Marisol I love you. My little baby sister.”
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Rios lived in Brooklyn, New York. According to his Facebook page, he worked at True Care Home Health Care Agency and had studied social work at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.
His mother, Gertrude Merced, told WABC that the 25-year-old was in Orlando on vacation. A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Rios’ family to return his body from Orlando to New York City. The fundraising page’s introduction reads, “I come as a humble, hurt, devastated mother… Please help me bring my son home he is still in Orlando and I am asking for the public to be so kind and understant the pain a mother is going through.” The post’s author adds, “My family is torn apart and all I would like is to have my son with me so he can the funeral he deserves. My son was a good kid.”
Christine Jimenez, a relative of the deceased, wrote in a Facebook post that Rios “touched so many lives and now he is gone forever.”
“He was a great person with a heart of gold,” she said.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 and Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Fernandez (left) and Aracena-Montero (right) attended the club together, according to people who mourned their killing on Facebook.
One wrote in Spanish of the pair, “I lost my two best friends,” adding, “Their lives vanished in a moment. I can’t believe it.” Another wrote that Fernandez and Aracena-Montero had just returned from a trip earlier on Saturday.
A third recalled, “I remember the excitement we all felt at the closing of your new home, our dinners there, the arepas you made for me with so much love, our conversations & all the advices we all shared. You both promised me you were going to become Realtors.”
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Velazquez, the oldest victim named so far, was a professional Jíbaro dancer from San Juan, Puerto Rico who lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page.
“You will be missed Jimmy forever loved what an angel,” one friend posted.
Sara López, one of his friends, told the Orlando Weekly that Velazquez was at Pulse with two friends who tried to save him. They said they thought the gunshots were just a club beat until they started seeing people fall to the ground.They tried to grab Velazquez and pull him to safety, but he was pushed up against a wall by the shooter and they couldn’t help him.
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Tomlinson was the lead vocalist for Frequency Band and performed at the club Blue Martini in Orlando hours before he was killed, according to The Orlando Sentinel. He graduated from East Carolina University (ECU) in December 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications.
In a statement, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said, “We are saddened to learn that one of our own was killed in this tragedy in Orlando,” adding, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Shane’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Clips of the cover band’s performance show that Tomlinson was a talented and vibrant performer.
On Facebook, one mourner wrote that Tomlinson used “to go to my church years ago. If you knew him you would know he was funny, kind, and a all around nice guy. He loved to sing, loved to laugh and tell jokes,” Tomlinson’s friend added, “He touched many peoples lives for the better… I pray that God watch over his family and friends right now because we are missing an him more than words can say.”
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Serrano Rosado worked at Disney Live, a traveling show featuring Disney characters. He danced every year at an annual Atlanta Latino music festival, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Some of his Facebook photos show him dancing.
In Facebook tributes, friends remembered him as a talented dancer and a devoted father to his one young son. “He’s one the best father i know, he would work multiple jobs and pass on hanging out with friends just to make an extra dollar for his son,” a friend wrote. “Your family don’t deserve this.”
At one point, Serrano Rosado competed for the title of Mr. Gay USA, another friend said. He was also a go-go dancer at a bar in Palm Beach City.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
On Facebook, a woman identifying herself as Drayton’s aunt wrote that she was working when she was killed. “My neice, Deonka ‘Dee Dee’ Drayton was killed in this horrible tragedy,” she wrote, adding “she was at work.” It’s not clear whether Drayton was a Pulse employee.
An image of Drayton and others was posted to Instagram with the caption ‘Rest in Peace Deonka ‘Zeus’ Drayton… These faces are burned into my memory forevermore.”
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Camuy was a journalist who worked with the Spanish-language TV channel Telemundo. He was from Puerto Rico and lived in Orlando.
“He was a great assistant producer and had been working with us since ‘Yo Soy el Artista’ and previously at Telemundo Puerto Rico,” Cesar Conde, the Chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, said in an email shared by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “Most recently, he was working in audience management in the current season of ‘La Voz Kids.’ Jonathan will be missed dearly.”
“You’ll always be in my mind and in my heart,” a cousin wrote in a Facebook tribute. Camuy’s profile picture shows him leaping into the air in front of a Puerto Rican flag.
Frank Hernandez, 27
Hernadez’s sister, 18-year-old Julissa Leal, told reporters that her brother worked at a Calvin Klein in Orlando and had lived in the city for three years. She learned about the shooting through her brother’s boyfriend, who called her after he himself had been shot and lost track of Hernandez. Leal says her brother’s boyfriend survived the attack.
Asked by the press if her brother was loving and kind, an emotional Leal said emphatically that he was.
On Facebook, a man who said Hernandez was his manager at Calvin Klein shared condolences. “I hardly knew him but he meant so much to me, he was so nice to me and funny when I just started my job at Calvin Klein,” he wrote, adding “I will forever miss you frank.. I’m sorry you had to go so soon.”
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Univision reports that the Puerto Rican nurse recently moved from Chicago to Orlando, and that he was at Pulse with his partner. His aunt Leticia Padró, who traveled from Guánica to try to find him, described Candelario-Padro in Spanish as “a good boy with no vices – humble, respectful and studious.”
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Burt lived in Jacksonville, Florida. He worked as a financial aid officer at Keiser University, where he focused on making sure veteran students had access to resources.
Keiser Vice Chancellor Kelli Lan told The Orlando Sentinel that “Darryl was a highly respected employee and friend, and his contributions to our students and his colleagues will not be forgotten,” adding, “We extend our condolences to Darryl’s friends, family, Keiser University team members, and to all of those impacted by this tragic act of violence.”
Last year, Burt joined The Jacksonville Jaycees, a local young professionals group. The organization wrote in a Facebook post, “We are all deeply saddened by this tragic event and the loss of our Jaycee Brother.”
“He was personable, social and easy going,” Jaycees president Shawn DeVries told the Sentinel, continuing. “He was the type of person that was always willing to help.”
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Torres was originally from Puerto Rico, where he studied at the Ana G. Méndez University System, according to his Facebook page. Hours before he was killed, he posted a video of himself in Orlando, happily spending time with his family.
“Who would have thought that I didn’t want to come [to Orlando], and here I am and better than in Puerto Rico?” he replied in Spanish to a friend who asked how he was doing on what turned out to be his final day alive.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Menendez, who was originally from Puerto Rico, was a sales associate for the Speedway convenience store chain, and was studying health care management, according to his Facebook page.
After his murder, one of his friends wrote on Facebook that he would always remember how Menendez would say, “pa lante, nunca para atrás”: forward, never back.
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Reyes was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico and lived in Orlando, where he worked for Gucci, according to his Facebook page. The comments under his most recent Facebook post show his family and friends frantically trying to figure out what had happened to him and communicating with the Orlando Police Department about where he might be.
“Thanks for being such a great soul,” one commenter wrote.
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Josaphat graduated high school in 2014 and was starting classes at Valencia College in Orlando. His uncle, Christopher Long, told the Orlando Sentinel that he was studying computer science but also had a passion for photography.
Josaphat, who had previously lived in Arizona, called his mother after the shooting began, and she heard the sound of gunshots inch closer and closer as she kept him on the line, she told her relatives.
“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 said. “Right now, the whole family is grieving.”
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Crosby’s brother, Chavis Crosby, said Tevin was “very ambitious.”
“He worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal,” Crosby told The Chicago Tribune, adding, “He was definitely a good person and a good brother to me.” The Tribune reported that Crosby owned a business, Total Entrepreneurs Concepts. He graduated from West Iredell High School in Statesville, North Carolina.
On Facebook, a woman identifying as his cousin mourned the loss, writing, “My heart is torn into pieces.”
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Cory James Connell, 21
Connell, who was from Orlando, was remembered as a talented football player and a loving friend. According to his Facebook page, he studied at Valencia College and worked at Publix supermarket. Some friends said he wanted to be a firefighter.
In a Facebook post, his brother Ryan called him a “super hero.”
“The world lost an amazing soul, today. God just got the best of angels,” he wrote.
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 and Luis Daniel Conde, 39
The New York Times reported that the couple was at Pulse to celebrate a friend’s birthday. They had been together for 13 years. According to Facebook, Velazquez owned D’Magazine Salon and Spa in Kissimmee, Florida, and was from Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. Conde’s Facebook page lists his home town as San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.
Velazquez’s brother, Baron Serrano, told the Times that the victim was a well-known hairdresser in Orlando. A mourner wrote on Facebook, “You will always be together in heaven and in our hearts.”
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martinez was from Cuba, according to a Cuban news blog. The blog reported that his friends and family called him repeatedly on the night of the attack but never were able to reach him.
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Paniagua was one of three Mexican citizens killed in the Orlando shooting. He grew up in Veracruz, and in the last few years had moved back and forth between Mexico and Florida.
He worked in construction, a cousin who did not want to be named told local TV station ABC 10 News.
“I’m in so much pain,” the cousin said. “He was a good person.”
Juan Chavez-Martinez, 25
Chavez-Martinez, who worked at a sports store, was remembered as a loyal friend. According to his Facebook page, he was from Huichapan, Mexico.
“May God bless you and keep you in glory, and rest in peace,” one co-worker wrote on Facebook, calling him a good boss and and an “excellent person.”
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Wright was one of several of the victims who had connections to Disney. He worked at Walt Disney World.
“It’s hard to understand, but the people with you work with at Disney, they are an amazing family,” Scott Dickison, one of Wright’s co-workers, told the Orlando Sentinel. “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 was at Pulse to celebrate a friend’s 21st birthday.
“This is so surreal to me still,” one friend wrote on Facebook, calling Wright humble and easygoing. “It pains me to know that such a thing can happen in my city.”
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Rodriguez’s friend Ivonne Irizarry told The Orlando Sentinel that the Puerto Rico native was “just a caring, loving guy — just like a big teddy bear.” His sister Valeria Monroig added, “He cared more about others than about himself.”
According to his Facebook page, Rodriguez went to Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, and his LinkedIn account shows that he continued to live in the city.
In a Facebook post, a relative wrote in Spanish that Nives family is “devastated and in shock at the news.”
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
According to his Facebook page, Ayala lived in Kissimmee, Florida where he worked as a Biologics Assistant at OneBlood. He studied Human Resources at Interamerican University in his hometown of San German, Puerto Rico.
A friend, Johnny Rivera Muñiz, told The Orlando Sentinel that Ayala did “things the right way.” Muñiz added that Ayala “loved to dance salsa and all kinds of Latin dancing… he didn’t even drink because he had a long drive home and always wanted to be safe.”
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
McCool was at Pulse with her son, Isaiah Henderson. Henderson, 21, survived the shooting. NBC News reported that McCool, a two-time cancer survivor and mother of 11, would often accompany Henderson to dance clubs.
In a GoFundMe page set up by her children, a man identifying as her fifth oldest son wrote, “she just went out last night and said goodbye to her children,” adding, “All I ask is for prayers and whatever you can to help me and brothers sisters to be able to pick up the pieces where she left off. You will forever be in our hearts. Always. I truly love you so much MOM!”
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24
Sulivan is survived by her husband and two young children.
A woman identifying as her sister, Natalia Canlan, set up a crowdfunding page in Sulivan’s memory. “We went there for a night of fun and instead she paid with her life,” Canlan wrote, adding, “Mary left behind the light of her eyes her 2 boys Jariel and Sergio, and her loving and devoted husband Pito. Mary was an amazing daughter and an extraordinary sister! She was the most loving and caring person you could ever meet, her smile lit up the room and her laughter brought a smile to your heart!”
In a Facebook post, a relative of Sulivan and friend of victim Jonathan Camuy grieved their absence in Spanish. “Mary left me with the pain that I never thought I’d feel, Mary I love you with all the forces of my being. he wrote.
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
The Chicago native used to play pool and dance at an Orlando gay bar, Bear Den at Parliament House, according to his boyfriend Francisco Hernandez. “”I miss him. I love him,” Hernandez told The Orlando Sentinel. “I took care of him, and he took care of me. Such a loving spirit. I’ll always have him in my heart.”
Henry leaves behind two children.
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Brown was an alumnus of Florida A&M University. The school issued this statement about his death:
We are especially saddened by the news that one of the victims was part of the FAMU family. 29-year-old Antonio Davon Brown was a criminal justice major from Cocoa Beach, Florida and a member of ROTC during his time on the Hill. He graduated from FAMU in 2008 and is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media. We will continue to update you about plans for a memorial or service of remembrance for alumnus Brown.
The Huffington Post reported that Brown also served in the Army from 2010-2011, where he refused to hide his sexuality even though the “don’t ask don’t tell” rules had not yet been lifted.
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Sanfeliz was a native of Cuba who lived in Tampa and worked for JPMorgan Chase, according to his Facebook page.
His most recent post shows a picture of himself along with his mother and brother. “I Love Mom,” a graphic on the picture reads.
His family set up a GoFundMe page in his memory, writing, “Chris believed that people should be open and honest. He lived his life proud. Chris was kind, generous and had many, many friends.”
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Murray was a star basketball player at Philadelphia’s West Catholic Prep High School who had just earned a full college scholarship, local station NBC10 reported. She was in Orlando on vacation and went to Pulse with her cousin and her friend.
West Catholic Prep paid tribute to Murray on its website, writing:
A recent graduate, Akyra was a superstar who was a leader amongst her classmates and teammates. She was an honors student [who] graduated third in her class, and a 1,000 point scorer on the Lady Burrs basketball team. Akyra recently signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Mercyhurst College. May God bless Akyra’s soul and provide comfort to all family and friends during this very troubling time.
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Ortiz-Jimenez, who went by Drake, was from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. He worked as an actor and dancer, he said on Facebook.
“My God, I can’t believe it,” one friend posted on his page after his murder. “I only ask God for peace for his family and to be with his family in their pain.”
The day before the shooting, he posted photos and videos he took at a recent Selena Gomez concert in Orlando.
“We only got ONE LIFE!” Ortiz-Jimenez captioned one selfie, flexing for the camera. “So let’s go hard ’til the day we die!”
This is a developing story. We will be updating the post with more details about the victims as they emerge. If you have any information about or remembrances of the victims you would like to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.