In the early hours on Sunday 12 June 2016, one of the worst mass shootings in modern US history was committed at Pulse nightclub.
A total of 49 people died, with 53 injured, in a targeted attack on the LGBTQ community.
Today, two years after the terrible tragedy, the world mourns the loss of those innocent and proud members of our community who wanted to do but one thing: live an open and free life.
Two years on from the Pulse Orlando massacre, we remember those that lost their lives.
Stanley Almodovar III
Stanley was a pharmacy technician, his mother described her son as happy with a big heart. Scrolling through his Facebook you can see him laughing, smiling and enjoying himself. “Yes I wear makeup,” he writes in one post, “I’m still a man about it, though.”
Amanda was at Pulse with best friend Mercedez Marisol Flores, who also died. Writing online, Amanda’s brother said of the attacker: “He’s an instrument of hate, I won’t spread that. I will spread a message of love in Amanda’s name.”
Mercedez Marisol Flores
Born in Queens, New York, Mercedez moved to Florida when she was a child. She went to Pulse almost every weekend with Amanda. She wanted to be a party planner so she could do events with her elder brothers, who’re both DJs.
Oscar had recently returned from a vacation to New York and Canada with his partner Simon Carrillo. They had just bought a house together and lived with their three Chihuahuas.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez
Simon was killed in Pulse alongside his partner Oscar. He’s said to have never missed someone’s birthday at work. A friend said both men were full of life and love.
Rodolfo was a biologics assistant at the OneBlood donation centre – the very organisation who stepped up and helped provide blood to the 53 survivors of the tragic attack.
A friend, Nailea Disla, wrote online: “Your soul lives forever my friend. You touched many lives with your energy, always had a smile on your face, a joke to make and stories to tell. Shine bright like a diamond Rodolfo Ayala.”
Antonio Davon Brown
Antonio was a former student at Florida A&M University and was a captain serving as a Troop Program Unit soldier in the US Army Reserve. His friends described him as a “down to earth, good guy”.
A friend tweeted: “I can hardly breathe, I never thought any one of us from Class of 08 would die young. We all came back from war safely. He killed my friend, my battle buddy.”
Darryl Roman Burt II
Darryl was a financial aid officer in Jacksonville, Florida. He loved wearing colourful bow ties and friends said he had an energetic personality.
Angel L Candelario-Padro
On his Facebook page, Angel wrote: “I’m an adventurous, easy going, but responsible man that would like to live the life completely.”
A friend of Juan’s posted on his Facebook page in Spanish after news broke that he had been killed. The translated post reads: “May God bless you and hold you in his glory. And rest in peace, my good friend. My brother in work. An excellent boss and person. We miss Juan Chavez.”
Luis Daniel Conde
Luis was originally from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. He was in Pulse with Juan P Rivera Velazquez, who also died. They ran a salon and spa in Kissimmee together.
Juan P Rivera Velazquez
Messages were left for both Juan and Luis outside their salon in chalk on the pavement. “We will always thank you for making us feel beautiful,” one message read.
Cory James Connell
Cory’s brother, Ryan, wrote on Facebook: “So we have been informed that Cory Connell is no longer with us. The superhero of our family! A family man through and through. The world lost an amazing soul.”
Tevin Eugene Crosby
At only 25, Tevin was an entrepreneur and business owner. Those who knew him said he was hardworking, aspirational and full of energy. When he graduated in 2010, staff at the school voted him an ‘unsung hero’.
Deonka Deidra Drayton
Writing on Facebook, Deonka’s aunt Patricia Drayton Banks said: “While keeping the others in Orlando in prayer, keep my brother, his wife and both our families in your prayers. My niece, Deonka ‘Dee Dee’ Drayton was killed in this horrible tragedy. Senseless. She was at work! RIP Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.”
Leroy Valentin Fernandez
25-year-old Leory had just got a job as a leasing agent for an apartment complex. He also had started dating a dancer known by the stage name Eman Valentino. Eman was Xavier Rosado, who also died in the Pulse attack.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado
Xavier worked at Disney Live, he had only just started dating Leroy. He leaves behind a young son who this month had graduated from pre-kindergarten. “I have no words to express how proud and happy I am of my little boy,” Xavier wrote online.
Peter O Gonzalez-Cruz
In a Facebook post remembering Peter, his mother wrote: “Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love that you have shown me regarding my son. As a mother, I feel a deep and immense pain as everyone else who’s going through this.”
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menéndez
Gilberto went to Pulse on with his best friend Peter “Ommy” Cruz, who was also killed in the attack. He was studying healthcare management at Ana G Méndez University System in Orlando. His cousin said that he would be missed all around for his positive vibes.
Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher “Drew” Leinonen
Juan and Drew were in love, they lived together and had been dating almost two years. Juan had just finished studying at university, and wanted to be a financial advisor. Drew was a gay rights activist and started a gay-straight alliance at his school. Their families have said they will be buried together.
Paul Terrell Henry
Paul went regularly to the Latin nights at Pulse. He played piano, organ and could sing. His family and friends have said the thing they will miss the most is his smile. He leaves behind two children.
Frankie had “love has no gender” tattooed on his upper right arm. He loved Beyoncé and buying things from Calvin Klein and Armani. His sister told the press that he taught her how to walk in heels.
Miguel Angel Honorato
Comments flooded onto Miguel’s Facebook after the news broke of his passing. One read: “I’m so sorry for your loss. He was an amazing, loving, caring person and will always be missed! May God bless you and your family.”
Javier, who went by Harvey George Kings, worked as a supervisor at Gucci. His friend, Ray McGee, wrote online: “I can’t deal. Goodbye Harvey George Kings. Your energy and love of life and of all things beautiful was infectious. Too many memories over the years, most of them involving shopping! But also many of them at Pulse. You always made me feel sexy, always made me laugh, and always had that look on your face like you were up to something. You were one of a kind. I will never forget you.”
Jason Benjamin Josaphat
Jason had recently graduated high school and had a passion for photography. He had decided to go to college and study computer science, he was described as “an exceptional student” and was loved by his family.
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
Eddie Justice’s mother shared her son’s final texts as he hid in the bathroom of Pulse nightclub. He was an accountant and lived in downtown Orlando. His mother described him as loving and someone with a great sense of humour.
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla
Anthony loved to dance – nothing made him happier. He was at Pulse to dance and laugh with his roommates, who managed to escape the attack, but were injured.
Alejandro Barrios Martinez
Alejandro had recently moved to Florida from Cuba. Friends have said he loved and was loved.
Brenda Lee Márquez McCool
Brenda was a mother of 11, two-time cancer survivor and was originally from Brooklyn, New York. Brenda went out with one of her sons, Isaiah, to Pulse for a dance on Saturday evening. When the gunmen started firing into the crowd she gave her life shielding her son from the attack.
Kimberly “KJ” Morris
KJ worked as a bouncer at Pulse. She moved to the Orlando to be closer to her mother and grandmother. After she got the job at the club, friends say she hoped to perform drag and possibly DJ. Her drag king persona was Daddy K – a mixture of Micheal Jackson and Justin Timberlake – and her friends said she had the moves.
Akyra Monet Murray
The youngest victim of the attack. “Akyra was a was a superstar who was a leader among her classmates and teammates,” her school in Philadelphia said. She was a basketball fanatic and graduated third in her class.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
Luis was a dancer and worked as a barista. His friends said he had a confidence about him that empowered those around him.
Geraldo A Ortiz-Jimenez
Geraldo was known by most as Drake Ortiz. In the days leading up to Pulse, he watched Selena Gomez and DNCE perform, and snapped photos at Madame Tussauds. Friends described him as humble and charismatic.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
Eric married his partner Ivan Dominguez on 26 June, the day the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage. They were two weeks away from celebrating their wedding anniversary. Eric was in Pulse with a housewarming party that his husband had left early because he had to work the next day. A friend wrote on his Facebook: “God just gained one funny and caring angel today.”
Joel Rayon Paniagua
Joel was a construction worker and was looking forward to meeting friends at Pulse for another night of dancing. He moved to Florida from Mexico in the early 2000s in search of a better, more peaceful life.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez
Friends have described Jean as ‘always happy.’ He worked at a Perfumania store in Orlando, which he loved. It was at the perfume counter he met Luis, who went on to become his longtime partner.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon
Luis was at Pulse with Jean when the shooter attacked. He’s since been described as a hero by friends and family. Hours before the shooting he posted a picture of him and Jean having a great time.
Enrique L Rios, Jr
Enrique lived in Brooklyn, New York, and was visiting Orlando on vacation. His mother, Gertrude, wrote on a crowdfunding page: “My family is torn apart and all I would like is to have my son with me so he can have the funeral he deserves. My son was a good kid.”
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez
Jean will be remembered as kind and hardworking. He worked as a manager at McDonald’s and bought his first house two months ago. His sister told the Orlando Sentinel that he “cared more about others than about himself.”
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Christopher worked at JPMorgan Chase. His brother, wrote on Facebook: “My heart is completely broken. Everyone knows the bond that I had with my brother. We would finish each other’s sentences, knew each other’s thoughts, and could sense when the other was upset. He was so strong, and was my rock through everything we ever went through. He was the light of my family and I know that he will continue to bless us and his light will be radiating down from a better place.”
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan
Yilmary, who went by Mary, lived in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She was married to a race car driver and had two young sons.
Edward Sotomayor Jr
Edward was national brand manager at ALandCHUCK Travel, a gay travel agency. His close friend Michelle Visage wrote: “My sweet Eddie. You were such a joy to me, my kids, my husband. As a matter of fact, to everyone that ever met you. I loved you on so many levels. You were SO SO special and will never be forgotten. I promise you that. We love you baby. This is not about MY loss. This is about the senseless killing of a fellow HUMAN.”
Shane Evan Tomlinson
Shane was a talented singer and in an Orlando band called Frequency. They had performed at the Blue Martini Lounge just a few hours before the attack.
Martin Benitez Torres
Martin was visiting family in Orlando. He posted pictures to his Facebook commenting on how beautiful it was. He was studying at Ana G Méndez University System in San Juan.
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega
Jonathan worked for a Spanish language TV show La Voz Kids, which was similar to the NBC/BBC series The Voice. Mekahlo Medina, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said: “The [National Association of Hispanic Journalists] familia is heartbroken and offers our condolences to Jonathan’s family in Florida and Puerto Rico. We also have Jonathan’s work family at Telemundo in our thoughts and prayers.”
Luis S Vielma
Luis worked as a production assistant on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Orlando and was described as “one of the kindest souls you will ever meet in your life”. Friends told JK Rowling, who tweeted a picture of Luis, that he was a Griffindor would have made her proud. After his death, hundreds of friends joined his co-workers raising their wands at a silent vigil to him. A woman told the crowd: “Tonight we remember someone that created a type of magic that we can never replace.”
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez
Franky worked as a visual merchandiser for an Orlando clothing store. He liked posting fun messages on his Facebook including a t-shirt that read: “Never underestimate an old man who is also a visual merchandiser.” Among his family and friends, he was known for his Jibaro folk dancing. In an online post. his sister Shelia wrote “I can’t accept it. Still.”
Jerald Arthur Wright
If you went to Main Street or Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom you might have seen Disney employee Jerald. He was a sports fan and loved his dog Rusty.
We will never forget you.