These are the victims of the gay nightclub massacre in Orlando

A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday, leaving at least 49 people dead in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Here are stories of some of the victims.

———

MERCEDEZ MARISOL FLORES

Mercedez Marisol Flores went to Pulse nightclub almost every weekend, Flores’ sister-in-law said Monday, often with her best friend Amanda Alvear. Both women died in the shooting.

“She was very outgoing,” Nancy Flores said of Mercedez Flores. “She had lots of friends. They used to always meet up at Pulse.”

Born in Queens, New York, the 26-year-old Flores moved to Florida when she was a child, her sister-in-law said. She worked at Target and studied at Valencia College, a local community college. She wanted to become a party planner so she could coordinate events with her two older brothers, who are both DJs.

Alvear, 25, had bonded with friend Sandy Marte over breakups and health problems. Marte said he was trying to comfort her after the breakup. She had lost a lot of weight following gastric bypass surgery and Marte encouraged her to socialize and enjoy life.

“She was loving, she was caring, she always had an open ear, she always wanted to help people,” Marte said of his friend Alvear. “She had an amazing heart. She was a really good person.”

Both women posted on Snapchat from the nightclub before the shooting.

Flores’ family spent hours waiting at Orlando Regional Medical Center, then a staging area at a nearby hotel.

Someone came to read the names of victims still hospitalized or being released. Mercedez Flores’ name wasn’t on the list.

It wasn’t until the early hours of Monday that her father got a call from the sheriff’s office that his daughter had died, Nancy Flores said.

Marte said a post from Alvear on Snapchat showed a packed club full of revelers, flashing lights and thumping music. Then a selfie video of Alvear with a series of gunshots in the background.

Marte said he understands what it’s like to be at a nightclub during a shooting. He was at the Glitz Ultra Lounge in Orlando in February when two people were killed. He said he froze in place from the shock of it.

———

LUIS OMAR OCASIO-CAPO

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo wanted to be a star. The 20-year-old dancer was working at Starbucks inside a Kissimmee Target store while studying theater, and would have auditioned on Tuesday for a play, said his sister, Belinette Ocasio-Capo.

“He was one of the most amazing dancers,” she said. “He would always call me and say, ‘I’m going to be the next Hollywood star.’ He really did want to make it and be known.

“Now his name ended up being all around the world, like he wanted — just not this way.”

Omar, as he was known to family and friends, seemed brash to 70-year-old Claudia Mason, who worked with him at Starbucks. But after getting to know her much younger co-worker, “I realized he had a very outgoing personality,” said Mason. “His sense of humor was definitely his defining personality trait.”

Ocasio-Capo was hired as a cashier before moving over to the Starbucks, and became a great barista, Mason said.

“Omar got along with everyone. Young, old, male, female, gay, or straight, it didn’t matter to Omar,” she said.

———

PETER O. GONZALES-CRUZ

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 — known among family and friends as “Ommy” — was always the life of the party.

“Peter makes a difference everywhere he goes. He was a happy person. If Peter is not at the party, no one wants to go,” his aunt, Sonia Cruz, said.

Gonzalez-Cruz went to Pulse on Saturday night with his best friend, 25-year-old Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez. After news of the mass shooting emerged, Cruz said she held out hope for hours that her nephew would turn up in a hospital bed.

But late Sunday afternoon, she was told he was among those killed at the club.

Cruz said she had her nephew’s car keys and was hoping to collect his car Sunday evening. It was parked at a Wendy’s across the street from Pulse, one of many with yellow police caution tape tucked under the windshield wipers, vehicles left behind by victims of the shooting.

Cruz said her nephew worked at UPS.

———

EDWARD SOTOMAYOR

Edward Sotomayor, 34, was a caring, energetic man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, according to David Sotomayor, who said the two discovered they were cousins after meeting at Orlando’s annual Gay Days festival around a decade ago.

David Sotomayor, who lives in Chicago, told The Associated Press Sunday that Edward worked for a company that held gay cruises and often traveled to promote the company’s events.

“He was just always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor said.

The two texted regularly and kept in touch, last seeing each other earlier this year at a filming of the television reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” David Sotomayor said.

David Sotomayor is a drag queen who appeared on a season of the show using the name “Jade.” He said Edward Sotomayor supported him and often sent him Facebook messages. They last exchanged messages late last week.

“You never think that’s going to be the last time you speak to him,” David Sotomayor said. “It’s just heartbreaking to know it just can happen anytime.”

———

JUAN RAMON GUERRERO

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, told his cousin Robert Guerrero he was gay about two years ago, but he was worried about how the rest of his family would react. He did not tell them until just before the beginning of this year. And when he did?

“They were very accepting,” said Guerrero, 19. “As long as he was happy, they were OK with it.”

On Sunday morning, after learning that so many people had died at a gay nightclub, Pulse, that his cousin had gone to once in a while, Guerrero started to become concerned. Later in the day, his fears were realized when the family learned that Guerrero was identified as one of the victims.

 

 

First picture of the year. Happy 2016

A photo posted by Juan Guerrero (@juang0628) on

 

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.”

———

STANLEY ALMODOVAR III

Stanley Almodovar III’s mother had prepared a tomato-and-cheese dip for him to eat when he came home from his night out.

Instead, Rosalie Ramos was awakened by a call at 2 a.m. Sunday telling her something had happened.

Ramos told the Orlando Sentinel her son, a 23-year-old pharmacy technician, posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing on his way to Pulse nightclub.

“I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever,” she told the newspaper.

A friend, Hazel Ramirez, told the Washington Post she also saw a video from Almodovar on Snapchat and learned Sunday afternoon what had happened.

Ramirez described Almodovar as “kind, but sassy,” and someone who was comfortable with his own sexual identity.

“He was so proud of who he was,” she told the Post. “He would do his makeup better than anyone else. It was so easy to be myself with him.

———

KIMBERLY MORRIS

Kimberly Morris, 37, moved to Orlando just months ago and had taken a job at Pulse nightclub as a bouncer, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“She was so excited,” ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the newspaper. “She’d just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there,” Shelton said.

Friends described Morris as a kind, sweet person.

Narvell Benning met Morris when they were in college at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, where Benning said they both played basketball.

“I can’t think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face,” Benning told the Sentinel. “I’m so thankful of the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal.”

———

LUIS VIELMA

Everyone loved Luis Vielma, a 22-year-old who worked at Universal Studios, friends said.

High school friend Eddi Anderson told the Tampa Bay Times that Vielma loved his job at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and was known for his pleasant attitude and warm demeanor.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books that spawned the movies and Orlando theme park, tweeted a picture of Vielma in a Hogwarts school tie, and said: “I can’t stop crying.”

Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal, told the Orlando Sentinel: “He was always a friend you could call. He was always open and available.”

Vielma “just wanted to make people smile,” another co-worker, Olga Glomba, said.

———

Authorities released the names of 48 of the 49 victims Monday morning:

  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
  • Stanley Almodovar III, 23
  • Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
  • Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22
  • Kimberly Morris, 37
  • Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
  • Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
  • Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
  • Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
  • Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
  • Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
  • Amanda Alvear, 25
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
  • Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
  • Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
  • Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
  • Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
  • Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
  • Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
  • Cory James Connell, 21
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
  • Luis Daniel Conde, 39
  • Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
  • Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
  • Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
  • Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
  • Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
  • Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24
  • Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
  • Frank Hernandez, 27
  • Paul Terrell Henry, 41
  • Antonio Davon Brown, 29
  • Akyra Money Murray, 18
  • Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

This story will be updated throughout the day as more information on the victims is released. Check back for updates.

News Videos
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing