clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Remembering the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting through the words of their loved ones

Shane Tomlinson, a 33-year-old lead singer of local Orlando group Frequency Band, was killed at Pulse nightclub Sunday morning.
Shane Tomlinson, a 33-year-old lead singer of local Orlando group Frequency Band, was killed at Pulse nightclub Sunday morning.
Frequency Band/Facebook

At 2:06 am Sunday, Mina Justice woke up at home to a text sent by her son, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, age 30. It read, "Mommy I love you."

Justice would soon realize her son was trapped in the bathroom at Pulse, a gay nightclub where a lone gunman was holding people hostage Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida. Her phone stored a disjointed record of Eddie’s last moments, as he told her someone was shooting and asked her to call the police. Mina read the texts on video for the Associated Press:

"Call them mommy."


"I’m tell I’m bathroom"

"He’s coming."

"I’m gonna die."

"He has us, and he’s in here with us."

Later that morning, Justice and others awaited details on the status of the people who were shot at Pulse early Sunday morning. Her son was among the 50 people, including the gunman, who died in the mass shooting that night.

It is one thing to know that the mass shooting at Pulse stands as the deadliest in modern US history. It is another to know the names of the victims, who were predominantly young, LGBTQ people of color, whose fates were sealed by America’s gun violence epidemic because of both the country’s political inaction on gun violence and LGBTQ hate crime protections.

Since Sunday evening, the city of Orlando has been releasing the names of confirmed victims on its website after notifying the victims’ loved ones. With each new confirmation comes more information of those lost in the massacre as those close to them commemorate their lives through news accounts and social media.

Below are the names of the victims we know as of Tuesday afternoon, and what we could find of their online footprint:

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Sotomayor was a national brand coordinator for Al and Chuck Travel, a gay travel agency. But many also knew hims as "Top Hat Eddie" for the top hat he wore to social events.

The company’s co-founder Al Ferguson posted a video of Sotomayor at Pulse on Facebook shortly before the shooting, noting that Sotomayor texted, "My people are here. Top hat is popular."

In his final hours, Sotomayor was a hero: He was shot in the back at Pulse while trying to help his boyfriend escape to safety.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

According to his Facebook profile, Almodovar was from Springfield, Massachusetts, and lived in Clermont, Florida, where he worked as a pharmacy technician.

Many of his friends remembered him on his timeline for his big smile. His mother, Rosalie Ramos, told the Orlando Sentinel he "was a happy man with a big heart" and his aunt reiterated that he had a promising future ahead of him.

A witness at Pulse told Almodovar’s aunt that he spent his last moments helping push people out of the way of bullets. His birthday was later this month.

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Hope everyone enjoys their Sunday!

A photo posted by Juan Guerrero (@juang0628) on

Juan Guerrero had only just come out to his family about his sexuality this year. His cousin Robert Guerrero told the AP that Juan was worried about his family’s reaction, but they were accepting of the news.

"As long as he was happy, they were OK with it," his cousin said. "He was always this amazing person [and] he was like a brother to me. He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his nephew."

Guerrero, a telemarketer who had just started school at the University of Central Florida, went to Pulse with his partner, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, who also passed away.

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Boyfriend moment ❤❤❤

A photo posted by Dru™ (@thedruproject) on

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, also known as Drew, was at Pulse with his partner Juan Sunday. His mother, Christine, was among the family members who spoke to the media trying to find out more information about their loved ones’ whereabouts.

On Monday, it was confirmed that Leinonen was among those who were murdered.

Juan Guerrero’s family considered Leinonen to be a part of the family. Both families are currently planning a joint funeral for the couple.

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

The New York Times reported that Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera was one of the first victims identified Sunday. He was from Puerto Rico, where he studied at the Universidad Central de Bayamón, and was living in Florida in pursuit of a better life.

He worked at a Party City and a Sunglass Hut and lived in downtown Orlando with his husband, to whom he had been married for almost a year.

His cousin Orlando Gonzalez remembers Ortiz-Rivera as "very artistic" and a "goofball" who like to dance.

"Eric was always willing to help everybody," Abismel Colon Gomez, his former roommate, told the Orlando Sentinel. "He sacrificed himself a lot for his family. He loved his brother, and he was always being generous."

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

According to his Facebook page, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, also known as "Peter Ommy," graduated from high school in 2013 in New Jersey and was working at a UPS in Orlando at the time of his death. He also spent time living abroad in the Central African Republic and South Africa.

"Rest in peace to my wonderful cousin," one family member wrote on social media. Another added: "May you rest easy in Heaven."

Luis S. Vielma, 22

According to his Facebook page, Luis S. Vielma studied at Seminole State College of Florida. He also worked for Universal Studios as a ride operator for the Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey rides.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, honored him in a tweet:

Amanda Alvear, 25

Amanda Alvear is remembered as a "fashionista" by family. Originally from Polk County, Florida, she worked a pharmacy technician and hoped to become a nurse.

"People got caught in her wake," her brother Brian Alvear told the Orlando Sentinel. "Whatever she was doing that's what they were going to do and have fun doing it."

She attended Latin night with friends, including Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, who was also killed Sunday.

As friends and family remember Alvear, her brother made one thing clear: "She wouldn’t want anyone to spread hate for her. She’d rather they spread more love, keep friends and family close, and have a good time doing it."

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, one of the youngest victims of the Pulse shooting, had just graduated from high school and was taking classes at Valencia College, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

His aunt and uncle told the Sentinel that Josaphat was looking forward to studying computer science and exploring his passion for photography.

His aunt Josette Desile added: "He was always helpful, always willing to help someone in need. Never once has he ever shown any type of rage or anger. He was just high on life."

Cory James Connell, 21

Cory Connell was "the superhero" of the family, his brother Ryan wrote in a post on Facebook, "a family man through and through."

"The world lost an amazing soul, today. God just got the best of angels," he wrote.

Connell was a graduate of Edgewater High School, according to his Facebook profile, and was studying at Valencia College while working at a local supermarket.

In wake of the tragic news, his friends have taken to his Facebook page to describe his "positive attitude" and "good spirit." BuzzFeed reported that Connell was at Pulse with his girlfriend, who was injured and is now recovering from the shooting, according to various social media posts.

"Cory's smile and kind heart touched many," a member of the Connell family’s local community wrote on a GoFundMe page created to raise money for travel and funeral expenses.

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

The Orlando-based music group Frequency Band plays the kind of music you want to dance to. Upbeat and happy, the band played weddings, local bars, and clubs. Tomlinson was a lead singer, frenetic and charismatic.

Frequency Band/Facebook

His Facebook profile, some of which is public, is full of compliments on his career, his love of music, his talent as a vocalist, and his good looks.

One of his Facebook friends commented on a picture he posted last year: "Bro/bestie/lol cut up buddy/confidant/dragon/and many more adjectives....have I told you lately how very extremely proud of you I am!!!! The passion you have for your craft is rare among our generation and I wish you much success."

His passion remains palpable in videos of performances from Frequency's past shows:

Kimberly Morris, 37

Morris was new to Orlando: Two months ago she moved from Hawaii to help her mother and grandmother and found work as a bouncer at Pulse nightclub.

"She was so excited," Morris’s ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the Orlando Sentinel. "She'd just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there."

To her friends still in Hawaii, Morris "was the most loving person," Kourtney Baltazar said at a vigil in Honolulu. "She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. If you came to her after a bad day, she’d find some way to cheer you up."

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice was one of the earlier victims identified Sunday. During the shooting and hostage situation, Justice texted his mother, telling her he loved her and updating her throughout.

Justice was an accountant, and, according to his mother, loved to make people laugh.

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Darryl Roman Burt II lived in Jacksonville. Last weekend he originally had plans for a trip to New Orleans with one of his best friends. Instead, he went dancing in Orlando. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he was celebrating having just received his degree in human resources management.

Burt worked as a financial officer at Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale and focused on ensuring aid to military veterans. Those who worked with him regarded him as "personable, social, and easygoing."

"Darryl was a highly respected employee and friend, and his contributions to our students and his colleagues will not be forgotten," Kelli Lane, vice chancellor of Keiser University, told the Sentinel.

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Deonka Deidra Drayton was working at Pulse nightclub at the time of the attack.

Her aunt Patricia Drayton Banks condemned the shooting on Facebook as "senseless."

"R.I.P. Dee Dee," Banks wrote. "You know this Auntie will miss you."

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Dance was Anthony Luis Laureano Disla’s passion. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Laureano Disla moved to Orlando three years ago to turn dancing into a career, despite being just a few credits short of graduating from the Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon in San Juan with a degree in communications.

"I want people to remember Anthony as someone who was very happy and very kind," Ana Figueroa, Laureano Disla’s cousin, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Jean Carolos Mendez Perez met the love of his life at a perfume counter.

While working at the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets store, Perez used his charm to win over Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon with Declaration by Cartier. Eventually Wilson-Leon would become Perez’s longtime partner. The couple were at Pulse on Sunday and were among those killed.

Family members remember Perez as someone who like to go out and maintained a childlike playfulness that made him stand out as a "fun-loving and doting uncle."

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

"Protector, confidant, and hero," are three words Daniel Gmys-Casiano used to describe his friend Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon to the Orlando Sentinel.

The two met in Puerto Rico, where they grew up. According to Gmys-Casiano, Wilson-Leon was bullied as student. He eventually left the island for Vero Beach, Florida.

"He's been dealing with hate all his life," Gmys-Casiano said. "We all have. I have. He never retaliated with hate. He was a very loving person. He was strong. He would stand to protect his friends."

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26

The day before the shooting, Aracena-Montero was on vacation in Canada, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

His cousin Yamilka Pimentel told the Sentinel he "stopped in New York and went to Niagara Falls. They just flew back into Orlando the same day (the Pulse shootings) happened."

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Aracena-Montera moved to Florida with his father. His mother still lives in the Dominican Republic, and according to the Sentinel, citing posts from his friend’s social media accounts, she does not yet have a visa to attend her son’s funeral.

Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25

Rios grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood with his three brothers and two sisters, his mother told Brooklyn News 12. In New York, he was a social worker with True Care Home Health Care company while going to nursing school, the New York Daily News reported.

On his Facebook page, family and friends have shown an outpouring of love, remembering him as an "amazing person" who always put a smile on others' faces.

"I'm forever going to miss my son but I've been taught to believe that my son knew the Lord Jesus Christ and so I still have the hope that I'm going to see him again one day," his mother told News 12.

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Originally from Guayama, Puerto Rico, Javier Jorge-Reyes lived and worked in Orlando as a supervisor at Gucci. To those who worked with him, he was a natural for the job.

"He was super outgoing," friend Jose Diaz told the Orlando Sentinel. Additionally, he is remembered for his friendliness and as being "style-conscious and customer-oriented."

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Jerald Arthur Wright was celebrating the 21st birthday of his friend Cory James Connell at Pulse on Saturday night, but neither Wright nor Connell made it out of the club Sunday morning.

Wright was a seasonal employee at Disney World. The Orlando Sentinel reports that at the time, he was working in merchandising at the Magic Kingdom but had also worked at Tomorrowland and Universal Studios in the past.

"He was one of the kindest people you could meet," Kenneth Berrios, a former co-worker, told the Sentinel.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

An hour and a half before the shooting, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo sent a Snapchat video showing him doing what he loved most: dancing.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ocasio-Capo grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and worked at Target and Starbucks while trying to jump-start a professional career as a dancer.

"He was always just loving and kind," Daniel Suarez-Ortiz, a friend, told the Sentinel. "The reason why he moved to Orlando was for his acting and dancing career, and it hurts that he is not able to do that anymore."

Officials have also released the following names among the fatalities from Sunday’s incident. This article will be updated as we find more on their stories:

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

Antonio Davon Brown, 29

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25