High-school grad, dancer, accountant among Orlando shooting victims

Updated 2:12 AM EDT, Thu June 16, 2016
02:35 - Source: CNN
Details emerge on Orlando shooting victims, survivors
CNN —  

They range in age from 18 to 50. A barista, an accountant, a recent high school grad.

While different in so many ways, they have one thing in common: They lost their lives in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States.

Authorities have released the names of the 49 people who were killed in a massacre early Sunday at a gay club in Orlando.

Edward Sotomayor was a popular travel planner nicknamed “top hat Eddie” for the black hats he always wore. Cory Connell was a student who dreamed of becoming a firefighter. Eddie Justice was an accountant who loved living in downtown Orlando. The youngest killed was Akyra Murray, a star athlete who had just graduated from high school.

Here’s what we know so far about the victims:

Edward Sotomayor Jr.

Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Edward Sotomayor Jr./Facebook
Edward Sotomayor Jr.

The 34-year-old Sarasota resident was an avid traveler and easily made new friends.

Friends paid tribute on social media using emojis of black hats.

“Eddie was one sweetheart and I will miss talking and working with him. That smile and top hat is burned in my memory,” Nikki Stjames posted.

“He was a kind and loving man. A man that lit up the room with his great smile,” said friend Jason Howell. “Always there to try and solve a problem whether small or big. Just the posts on all of the social media sites show how much he is loved and how he touched so many lives … he will truly be missed.”

Sotomayor worked at a travel agency that catered to the gay community, and made his mark on clients as well.

“He was one of our tour leaders, known for wearing his top hat, and for being a really nice guy,” Robin Ziegler Suess posted on social media. “He was also a tour leader on our recent Caribbean cruise in January, where I had the honor of wearing his top hat.”

Al Ferguson, owner of Al & Chuck Travel where Sotomayor worked, described Sunday as “one of the saddest days” of his life.

Stanley Almodovar III

Stanley Almodovar III
Stanley Almodova/Facebook
Stanley Almodovar III

The 23-year-old pharmacy technician loved his family. And the feeling was mutual.

When he went out on that tragic night, his mother, Rosalie Ramos, made him a tomato and cheese dip, and put it in the refrigerator, she told the Orlando Sentinel.

But he never got to eat it. She got a phone call about the shooting in the middle of the night and rushed to the nightclub.

The last video he posted on social media showed him laughing and singing on the way to the club, Ramos told the paper.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo

The 20-year-old was one of the youngest killed in the shooting.

He was a dancer and a barista, according to a local blog dedicated to the victims.

The Cleveland Scene noted he was a former resident of the Ohio city, where his mother still lives. The Scene noted that Fusion spoke to Leonarda Flores, Ocasio-Capo’s cousin, who said of the victim: “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.”

It’s also reported that Ocasio-Capo used the French flag filter on his Facebook profile photo after the terror attacks in Paris.

A former co-worker of Ocasio-Capo’s, Claudia Mason, who worked with the victim at Target, said, “He lit up any area he worked in. … So sad that his life was cut so short by such an evil person.”

Akyra Monet Murray

Akyra Monet Murray
West Catholic Preparatory High School
Akyra Monet Murray

Murray was just 18 and in Orlando on a family vacation, visiting her brother after finishing high school in Philadelphia.

(She was a) dream child. Couldn’t ask for a better daughter. Perfect. She did everything for us except for clean her room. Outside of that, (she was) outstanding,” said her mother, Natalie Murray.

Murray said her daughter wanted to go to college to study why violent criminals behave the way they do and what causes them to commit evil.

She had just graduated from West Catholic Preparatory High School and had signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Mercyhurst University, according to the high school.

“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,” the school said in a statement.

Luis S. Vielma

Luis S. Vielma
Luis S Vielma/Facebook
Luis S. Vielma

Vielma, 22, worked at Universal Orlando, where he had devoted fans.

One of those mourning his death is J.K. Rowling, creator of the “Harry Potter” book series. The author said Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal.

“I can’t stop crying,” she tweeted.

According to his Facebook profile, Vielma was studying to be a physical therapy assistant at Seminole State College of Florida. It said he worked as a production assistant at Disaster Studios, as a rides attendant at Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey and attractions operations at Universal Orlando Resort.

Juan Ramon Guerrero

Juan Ramon Guerrero
Juan Ramon Guerrero/Instagram
Juan Ramon Guerrero

The 22-year-old worked as a telemarketer while attending the University of Central Florida.

“He was always this amazing person (and) he was like a big brother to me,” his cousin Robert Guerrero told CNN affiliate WESH-TV.

Guerrero came out to his family this year, and was afraid they would not accept him, his cousin said.

But he had no reason to be. They not only accepted him, but they also embraced his boyfriend, Guerrero said.

“As long as he was happy, they were OK with it,” he told the TV station.

Christopher Andrew Leinonen

Leinonen, 32, was Guerrero’s boyfriend. He was known as Drew. His mom said he established the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school. “He was fun, he was happy, he was Orlando’s child.” his mother told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “He was a genuinely good person. He was fun. He was happy.”

She said her son went to the University of Central Florida and also attended graduate school there. He had roots in Detroit, but he moved to Florida with his mother and attended Seminole High School. He became a practicing psychologist after getting a master’s degree, the Detroit News reported, quoting a letter from his father.

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera/Facebook
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

The 36-year-old moved to Florida from Puerto Rico for a chance at a better life, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Ortiz-Rivera rarely went out but decided to attend a friend’s housewarming celebration at the nightclub early Sunday.

“I am really in shock that he was in the club, because he was not usually a club-scene person,” former roommate Abismel Colon Gomez told the paper.

The Napa Valley Register reported Ortiz-Rivera worked in merchandise management for Toys R Us and Ross, had earned a degree in communications from a university in Puerto Rico and came to Florida to advance his career.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz

At 22, he was among the youngest victims.

He worked at a UPS Store and was known for memorizing the names of regulars, according to customers.

ʺSuch a happy soul, so hilarious, and made anyone’s frown turn upside down,” a friend wrote on Facebook.

He was known among family and friends as “Ommy,” and 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,” said his aunt, Sonia Cruz, the Daily Herald reported.

The Orlando Sentinel reported he attended Colonial High School and Aloma Charter High School in Winter Park.

Kimberly Morris

Kimberly Morris
Kimberly Morris/Facebook
Kimberly Morris

The 37-year old bouncer at Pulse nightclub always had a smile on her face.

She moved from Hawaii to Florida a few months ago to help her mother and grandmother.

She enjoyed mixed-martial arts fighting and basketball, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

It has been years since she ran down the court at Torrington High School in Torrington, Connecticut.

But the school’s former athletic director said he can still remember Morris, who graduated in 1996.

She was a “scrappy player,” Charlie McSpiritt said, who “played the game to her fullest.”

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice/GoFundMe
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice

The 30-year-old accountant lived in downtown Orlando.

Before he was identified as among those killed, his mother spent an agonizing day looking for him after he texted her from the club, according to CNN affiliate WFTV-TV.

“Mommy I love you,” he said in his first message. “In club they shooting.”

His mother, Mina Justice, tried to call him, but he did not answer. She sent him a series of text messages, trying to reassure him that she had called 911 and help was coming.

After they exchanged more messages, including one where he said the gunman was in their bathroom hideout, he suddenly went quiet.

Enrique Rios

Enrique Rios
Facebook
Enrique Rios

A relative said the 25-year-old was an angel to most people who knew him.

Erick Leon, who described himself as Rios’ cousin, said their ties go beyond family.

“My heart is heavy, we grew up together and now he is gone,” Leon posted on Facebook. “God took someone who was already an angel for so many people.”

Rayvon Murray Johnson said they used to work together at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

“Was such a funny and cool dude. He used to tell me, ‘don’t let world hold you back from your dreams,’ ” he posted on Facebook. “We use to talk about curry and God. … My heart is heavy, sleep well my brother. “

Rios’ partner and a relative confirmed his death to CNN.

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla
Courtesy Marcos Laureano Disla
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he had settled in Orlando, according to his Facebook profile.

Friends described him as “an amazing person,” “a special guy” and a talented dancer.

The Sun Sentinel reported that his family said, “It didn’t matter the style — salsa, mambo, tango, or ballroom dancing — Anthony was filled with joy when he was on the dance floor.”

Laureano Disla studied communications at Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon, the Orlando Sentinel reported

But a few credits shy of graduating, Laureano Disla packed a few belongings and moved to Orlando about three years ago to pursue a career as a dancer and choreographer.

“I want people to remember Anthony as someone who was very happy and very kind,” his cousin Ana Figueroa told the Sentinel. “This is just devastating for our family and his friends.”

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega

A photo of Camuy shows him smiling and flashing his fingers in a “V” as he sits in a big red chair on the set of “La Voz Kids,” the Telemundo show where he worked.

Camuy worked in audience management for the current season of the singing competition show.

The Puerto Rican journalist got his start at a Telemundo station in San Juan before moving to work for the network in Orlando, his cousin told CNN.

“He was a great assistant producer. … Jonathan will be missed dearly,” NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises Chairman Cesar Conde said in a statement the National Association of Hispanic Journalists released.

In a letter to members of the journalist group, President Mekahlo Medina said the organization is heartbroken over his death.

“Please join me in remembering Jonathan and the other victims taken so early in life by a senseless, horrible act,” he wrote.

Camuy would have turned 25 at the end of June.

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan

William Sabad Borges, middle, with his sister-in-law, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, and Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega.
Facebook/William Sabad Borges
William Sabad Borges, middle, with his sister-in-law, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, and Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega.

Rodriguez Solivan, 24, was friends with Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, and the two were at Pulse with Solivan’s brother-in-law, William Sabad Borges, who snapped a photo of the trio inside the club. Only Borges survived the shooting.

“I was telling my mom (Monday), how could my sister-in-law, who had two children, die … and I’m still alive? That’s what I really can’t comprehend,” he said.

Rodriguez Solivan was married to race-car driver Juan Borges and her children included a 3-month-old son, Sergio. She worked at a Wendy’s in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida. She lived in Kissimmee, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Cory James Connell

The 21-year-old was leaving Pulse with his girlfriend when the gunman walked in, his family said.

His girlfriend survived the attack, but Connell didn’t make it.

“Cory’s a good guy,” his father, James Connell, said as he awaited word of his son’s fate over the weekend. “He loves everybody.”

At the entrance of the family home, the family had childhood pictures of Cory in his football uniform. After graduating from Edgewater High School, he graduated from Valencia College. He was training to be a firefighter, CNN-affiliate WPLG reported.

He worked at a local Publix and was also an assistant coach for Orlando’s Women’s Football Alliance. His girlfriend, Paula Andrea Blanco, who was one of the 53 wounded in the shooting, plays for one of the teams, WPLG reported.

Mercedez Marisol Flores

Mercedez Flores
Facebook/Mercedez Flores
Mercedez Flores

Cesar Flores is heartbroken that his 26-year-old daughter was killed. She was a happy girl, he said, who had just decided to go out with some of her friends.

But he told reporters he would forgive the gunman.

“I forgive the boy because I cannot take that hate in my life. My life is more important than hate. … It hurts so much,” Flores said.

Mercedez Flores was born in New York.

“She had so many dreams,” her father said.

He said he has a message he wants to share: “We must all come together, we must all be at peace, we must all love each other, because this hatred cannot continue for the rest of our lives.”

Deonka Deidra Drayton

The 32-year-old was a bartender at Pulse, her family wrote on Facebook.

Kareem Gray, her cousin, said family called her “Dee Dee.”

Gray remembered watching her grow up.

“She used to dribble the basketball around me,” he wrote.

Drayton was raised in Eastover, South Carolina, in the Midlands, where her father is the director of God Cares Charities. a nonprofit organization with several thrift stores, CNN-affiliate WIS reported.

Drayton’s girlfriend told WIS the couple met in South Carolina and moved to Florida. Emmy Addison said Drayton was texting her during the shootings and said the gunman held her and others hostage in a bathroom. She said the last text she received from Drayton was at 2:34 when the gunman was in the bathroom. It said, “if I die call my mom.”

Addison said their 2-year-old son keeps asking here where his mommy is.

Miguel Angel Honorato

Honorato, 30, lived in Orlando with his family and managed a Mexican restaurant in Sanford, Florida.

ʺWe don’t know what happened,ʺ colleague Jonny Reyes said. ʺHe was an excellent person, boss and friend.ʺ

The Orlando Sentinel described him as a 30-year-old father of three children who lived in Apopka and went out with some friends Saturday night to Pulse. Univision said he was originally from Guerrero, Mexico. His family immigrated in 1991 and he was the manager of the family business

“In the world of hospitality with shops and restaurants and Latino Mexican products,” Univision said.

He was the third of seven brothers and one sister.

Honorato’s Facebook page was last updated on May 12 when he changed his profile picture to show his support for Club America, a Liga MX soccer team. His profile states he worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering in Orlando.

Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Josaphat was a 19-year-old student at Southern Technical College in Orlando.

ʺHe was a sweet, sweet kid that had a bright future ahead of him,ʺ Southern Technical admissions representative Fechete Mundo wrote on Facebook.

His family said he was computer savvy, loved to work out and had an interest in photography, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

His uncle Christopher Long said Josaphat had recently graduated from high school and had begun classes at Valencia College. He was studying computer science, the Sentinel reported.

Less than two weeks ago, he graduated from Southern Technical College’s business office specialist program, according to Martin Levert, the college’s executive director. The Sentinel reported that Levert called Josaphat “an exceptional student.”

Darryl Roman Burt II

The 29-year-old was an employee on the Jacksonville campus of Keiser University, the school said.

“Darryl was a highly respected member of the KU team, and his contributions to our students and his colleagues will not be forgotten,” the university said.

In addition to his work as a financial aid officer at the school, he was also a dedicated community volunteer, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Jacksonville Jaycees President Shawn DeVries told the newspaper he was “personable, social and easygoing.”

“He was the type of person that was always willing to help,” DeVries said.

CNN-affiliate WIS reported that Burt called South Carolina home for at least two years as a student at Claflin University in Orangeburg, according to school officials. Burt, Claflin officials said, majored in English and is a native of Avon, Indiana.

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez and Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez/Facebook
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez

Mendez, 35, was the best salesperson his co-worker had ever met, according to the Sentinel.

“He laughed with the people and would make jokes,” Claudia Agudelo, who worked with Mendez at Perfumania, told the newspaper. “He was always happy.”

One customer he charmed at the Orlando outlet mall, according to the Sentinel: Wilson-Leon, 37, who became his longtime partner

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon
Luis Daniel Wilson Leon/Facebook
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon

Family members shared word of their deaths on Facebook, posting photos of them over the years – smiling in front of a Christmas tree, posing in a photo studio, standing beside newlyweds at a wedding.

Siclaly Santiago-Leon, who described herself as Wilson-Leon’s cousin, said she was heartbroken, devastated and broken.

“I love you my love, Dani. I love you my love, Jean,” she wrote. “You are together. Rest in peace. Kisses always.”

Oscar A Aracena-Montero and Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez

Oscar A Aracena-Montero
Oscar A Aracena-Montero/Facebook
Oscar A Aracena-Montero

Last month Carrillo Fernandez, 31, and his partner, Aracena-Montero, 26, had something to celebrate.

They’d purchased a home together in Orlando, friend Danny Velazquez told CNN.

The couple both studied business administration at the Universidad de Turabo in Puerto Rico, the school said.