Each of the 49 people killed inside a crowded Orlando gay bar early Sunday morning lived unique lives filled with talent, hopes and dreams. The victims were mothers, brothers, aunts and uncles, and they all left behind people who loved them.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23, was from Clermont, Florida, and worked as a pharmacy technician. Haze Ramirez, Almodovar’s friend, said Stanley could change her mood simply by the conversation he provided. She said the two “clicked instantly” when they previously met at the Pulse.
“He made me feel like it was perfectly fine being who I was,” Ramirez said.
Amanda Alvear, 25, and her friend, Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, went to the club on the night of the shooting. Alvear posted a video of her fun-filled evening to Snapchat. That video also captured the moments shots first rang out in the club.
Flores was a fun-loving girl who worked at Target, was a student at Valencia Community College and had an interest in party planning.
Both Alvear and Flores were killed that night after fleeing to a bathroom in an attempt to find safety.
Alvear’s older brother, Brian told the Orlando Sentinel his sister wanted to be a nurse, and was never about spreading hate in any form.
“She’d rather they spread more love, keep friends and family close, and have a good time doing it,” he said.
Oscar Aracena-Montero, 26, had just returned from a vacation to New York and Canada one day prior to the shooting. Montero, who lived with his partner, Simon Carrillo, 31, who was also killed in the shooting, decided to attend the club’s “Latin Night.”
Aracena-Montero was described by those who knew him as a sweet guy, someone who got along with everyone, and Carrillo, who worked at McDonald’s, never forgot anyone’s birthdays and always found a way to make them feel special.
Aracena-Montero, who is from the Dominican Republic, moved to Florida with his father as a child. His mother still lives in the Dominican Republic and does not have a visa. Friends and family are currently trying to make arrangements for her to come to the U.S. to attend her son’s funeral.
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, worked as a biologics assistant at the OneBlood donation center, which ironically was overwhelmed with donations after the shooting. Friends and family said he was full of compassion and loved his job.
Rivera Muñiz told the Orlando Sentinel that Ayala-Ayala didn’t go to the club very often, but when he did, he loved to dance.
Ayala was killed while doing what he loved.
Antonio Davon Brown, 29, from Cocoa Beach, was a former Florida A&M student, local media reported. Brown was a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, serving as a Troop Program Unit Soldier.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29, of Jacksonville, was described as a man who loved to dance, have fun and help others. Burt had previously planned to take a trip to New Orleans on the weekend of the shooting, but backed out, opting to stay and go dancing instead to celebrate the Human Resources Management degree he had just earned.
Originally from Guánica, Puerto Rico, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28, recently moved to Orlando from Chicago with the hopes of starting a new life, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Just three days prior to the shooting, he started a new job as an ophthalmic technician.
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25, grew up in Huichapan, Mexico, but more recently lived in Davenport, Florida. He was a housekeeping supervisor for a local hotel chain. Friends and colleagues alike remembered him as a kind and loving individual.
Luis Daniel Conde, 39, and his partner, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, were together at the club when they were both shot and killed.
“Se fueron juntos como la pareja que son,” was posted to Conde’s Facebook page by a friend after the shooting, and translates to, “They left together like the couple that they are.”
The two ran a salon together for more than a decade, according to the Tampa Bay Times
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25, was from Statesville, North Carolina, but flew into Orlando for a visit on the weekend of the shooting. Those who knew Crosby said he was a dedicated business owner who ran his own marketing firm. Ambitious, hard-working and goal-oriented were words used to describe Crosby, who also had plenty of positive attitude and determination.
“He was very ambitious,” said Crosby’s brother, Chavis. “Whatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal.”
Anthony Luis, 25, who was also known as Laureano Disla, loved to dance from the time he was just a kid, and his cousin, Ana Figueroa, said he was very good at it. In fact, Luis moved to Orlando from Puerto Rico about three years ago to pursue a dream as a dancer and choreographer.
Luis wanted Figueroa to go dancing with him Saturday night, but she said she was too tired. Luis was later shot and killed while at the Pulse.
Figueroa, who said she wants him to be remembered as a person who was always very happy and very kind, said he left behind many close friends who are devastated over his death.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, had her fair share of trouble and was on probation, but friends say she was working to turn her life around. Ashleigh Alleyne, who dated Drayton for five years, said she talked with her last month and she was doing better than she had before, staying out of trouble and working with her cousin.
“She was changing,” Alleyne said.
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25, loved to sing and was a natural performer, who often did his own renditions of Beyoncé or Jennifer Lopez. Fernandez worked as a leasing agent at the Auvers Village Apartments and coworkers said he filled the office with music.
“He sang Adele in the office until we couldn’t take it anymore,” joked coworker and friend Yolanda Quinones-Perez. “It just feels very quiet now,” she said.
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, was known to friends and family as “Ommy.” He could speak both Spanish and English and worked for UPS in Orlando. On Sunday, after the shooting, Ommy’s Facebook page was renamed “Remembering Peter Ommy” and was chock full of nature-inspired photos.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, was at The Pulse Sunday with his long-time boyfriend, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32. Both were killed that morning. Guerrero, who previously attended Valencia College, was studying pre-finance at the University of Central Florida, while Leinonen, known as “Drew” to friends and family, had earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from the same college.
Guerrero, who previously attended Valencia College, was studying pre-finance at the University of Central Florida, while Leinonen, known as “Drew” to friends and family, had earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from the same college.
Drew’s mother was one of the first on the scene after the shooting, but her son was one of the last to be identified. According to Time, the families will have a funeral together for both Guerrero and Leinonen.
Paul Terrell Henry, was a fun-loving 41-year-old Chicago native who loved to dance and was a pool shark. He had a daughter who recently graduated from high school and a boyfriend, Francisco Hernandez, whom he knew had the potential to do great things.
Hernandez said he dropped out of school after three years, but Henry tried to get him to go back.
“He wanted the best for me, to succeed and to help me make something of myself,” said Hernandez, who has now made the decision to finish school.
Frank Hernandez, 27, had “love has no gender” tattooed on the inside of his right arm.
“Frankie was a really great big brother,” his 18-year-old sister, Julissa Leal, told reporters. “I miss him so much already.”
Julissa said Frankie taught her to walk in high heels and was always ready to help her with her hair or makeup. She also said her brother moved to Orlando from Louisiana about three years ago, because he felt more accepted there.
Miguel Angel Honorato was a 30-year-old father of three who lived in Apopka. He loved soccer and worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering in Orlando.
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40, lived in Orlando, but was originally from Puerto Rico. Friends called him “Javi” and described him as always being positive.
“He was very humble. He was a lovely friend,” said his friend, Jose Diaz.
Diaz said Jorge-Reyes was in his natural element working at the Millenia Mall Gucci store.
Edith Colon, who previously lived in Orlando, said she planned to call him this week, but now will no longer have the chance.
“He was a wonderful makeup artist,” she said, “a great friend and a hard worker.”
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, was just 19 years old and was excited about life and had a passion for photography. After receiving a call from her son Sunday morning, Josaphat’s mother told him to hide in a stall in the bathroom. She then called 911, but would never see her son alive again.
Josaphat’s aunt, Josette Desile, said he was a soft-spoken, quiet teen who would never harm anyone.
“He was always helpful, always willing to help someone in need,” Desile said.
Josaphat’s uncle, Christopher Long, said he was dearly loved by his family and “high on life.”
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30, sent his mother a chilling text message right after the shooting started, and for less than an hour, a broken conversation via text recounted Justice’s last moments before he was shot to death in the bathroom.
“He’s coming,” Eddie typed in one of his last messages, followed shortly after by, “I’m gonna die.”
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, was a 21-year-old from Cuba who had just recently moved and was still learning English. He was described as an outgoing individual who was always positive and always had a smile on his face.
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a 49-year-old mother of 11 who had beaten cancer not once, but twice.
Noreen Vaquer had been friends with McCool since kindergarten and described her as a fighter who wouldn’t take anything from anyone.
The night of the shooting, McCool went to the club, along with her 21-year-old son, Isaiah, who later watched in horror as his mother was mowed down by gunfire. McCool’s son survived. She did not.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, moved to Orlando a few years ago from Peurto Rico and was studying health care management.
“He was the light and the life of all the family gatherings,” said Menendez’s cousin, Irma Silva-Lauer, adding he was an only child.
Silva-Lauer told the Orlando Sentinel the entire thing felt like a dream.
Kimberly “KJ” Morris, 37, was a bouncer at the Pulse. She moved from Hawaii to Orlando a couple of months ago to give a helping hand to her mother and grandmother.
Starr Shelton, who previously dated Morris, said she was excited to be working at the club and to become involved in the local LGBT community.
Akyra Monet Murray, at just 18 years old, was the youngest victim. She was celebrating her graduation from a Philadelphia high school with a trip to Orlando when she was shot and killed. She was a basketball star in high school and was excited that the sport was going to help her through college.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, was a 20-year-old who moved to Orlando with dreams of an acting and dancing career. Ocasio-Capo was seen via Snapchat video after midnight dancing in the dark and crowded club.
“He was always just loving and kind,” said friend Daniel Suarez-Ortiz.
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25, known to friends and family as “Drake,” had flown from Puerto Rico, where he lived, to Orlando Friday night for a Selena Gomez and DNCE concert. Before returning home, he stopped in at the Pulse on Saturday night, where he was later shot and killed.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36, was another native of Puerto Rico who moved to Florida. Ortiz-Rivera was described as a generous man who was always willing to help anyone. He had a bachelor’s degree in communications and worked in merchandise management.
Joel Rayon Paniagua was a 32-year-old man who, like many of the other victims, loved to dance. He was described by friends and family as a humble person who was religious, full of cheer, and always trying to lift people’s spirits.
“He was the best,” said longtime friend Lorena Barragan. “He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better.”
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, went to the club with partner of eight years Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37, whom Perez met while working at the counter of Perfumania. Coworkers said his charm and humor made him a favorite among customers.
Likewise, Wilson-Leon was described as a hero and protector, but Daniel Gmys-Casiano, who was friends with him for nearly 20 years, said that wasn’t always the case.
“He was going to the same church that I was, and he was always the odd man out,” Gmys-Casiano said. “He was bullied constantly. He was different. He would dress in black, wear long sideburns.”
Gmys-Casiano would later come out and tell Wilson-Leon he was gay, not knowing at the time his long-time friend was as well.
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25, was from New York, but in Orlando for the weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday when he was shot and killed at the nightclub.
Rios’ mother, Gertrude Merced, said her son was a “wonderful person.” Merced said the last time they spoke was Friday and he sounded upbeat and happy.
Rios was just hours away from completing a degree in social work and was working as a coordinator for True Care Home Health Care.
After learning of her son’s death, Merced created a Go Fund Me account to raise the funds to bring her son’s body back to Brooklyn for a funeral. While she originally asked for $4,000, supporters have donated more than $30,000.
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27, was the general manager of a check cashing store who had just bought his first house about two months ago. According to friends, he wanted to be the best at everything he did and was willing to work hard to achieve that goal.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, was the father of a 5-year-old son who loved to perform for crowds at local theme parks, including Walt Disney World.
“He was always happy all the time,” said Cynthia Rodriguez, a store manager at Aldo, where Serrano previously worked. “He loved what he did. He always talked about his son.”
Rosado left the grocery store to seek employment in retail because he felt it afforded him more time with his son.
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz was a 24-year-old man who lived in Tampa, but was originally from Cuba. He worked for JPMorgan Chase and “lived his life proud,” according to his brother, Junior Sanfeliz. Junior described his brother as strong and the light of the family.
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24, was a mother of two, including a 3-month-old, who went to the Pulse Saturday night with her husband, race car driver Juan Borges. Both were shot that night, but only Borges survived.
“She was happy all the time,” said Borges in a quick interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “She was crazy about her kids.”
Edward Sotomayor Jr. was a 34-year-old brand manager for an LGBT travel agency. He was called “top-hat Eddie” because he would often wear a black top hat to big events. Sotomayor was described as outgoing, friendly, and just an all-around great guy.
“He was one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met,” said friend Jason Howell. “He touched so many people’s lives because he’s such a positive person. He would do anything for anybody.”
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33, had a bachelor’s degree in communications and sang with the band Frequency. The band performed Saturday night at a different club before Tomlinson went to the Pulse nightclub, where he was later shot and killed. Tomlinson’s band was scheduled for three more upcoming performances in the next two weeks.
Martin Benitez Torres, 33, lived in Puerto Rico and was in Orlando visiting family. Torres was a pharmacy student who was due to graduate this week.
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24, worked for a Spanish television network that aired a popular children’s talent competition, similar to “The Voice.” He was described as a loving man with a lot of talent and a promising future.
Luis S. Vielma was a 22-year-old production assistant and also worked as a ride attendant for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios. Author of the Harry Potter books, J.K Rowling, paid respects to Vielma via Twitter, on which she said she could not stop crying.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, at 50 years old, was the oldest of the Orlando shooting victims. Like many of the other victims, he was also originally from Puerto Rico. He was currently working at Forever 21 as a visual merchandiser, but had a varied past that included work as a professional Jibaro dancer.
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31, worked at Walt Disney World. Former fellow employee Scott Dickison said the folks at Disney are like “an amazing family.”
Wright was at the club celebrating the 21st birthday of his friend, Cory James Connell, who was also killed. Friends and family told the Orlando Sentinel Connell was a “superhero” and he wanted to be fireman.
“The world lost an amazing soul, today,” wrote brother Ryan Connell in a Facebook post Monday. “God just got the best of angels.”