On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed when a gunman opened fire inside Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Two years later, their loved ones and people around the world are remembering their lives with tributes, photos and memorial services on the anniversary of the tragic attack. Governor Rick Scott declared June 12 as Remembrance Day in Florida, and a service was held at the scene of the shooting, with friends, family and others writing messages to the lives lost that night.
“I remain committed to making sure our state never forgets these brave 49 individuals, that we continue to express our profound sympathy to the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event, and always remember that Florida is resilient and will endure during times of great tragedy,” the governor wrote.
Brandon Wolf, who survived the shooting, spoke at a rally for gun control on the eve of the second anniversary. “Two years ago, I was washing my hands in a bathroom sink when I heard an assault rifle fire 45 rounds in one minute. I’ll never forget the smell of blood and smoke burning in the inside of my nose. It wasn’t until after that I learned that 13 of those rounds killed my best friends. But the real crime here is that my story isn’t unique anymore,” Wolf said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Maria Wright, whose son, Jerry Wright, was killed in the shooting, told the Sentinel she had been at a dinner with friends, talking about how much her son loved his parents. “Just a few hours later, that pride was smashed and destroyed by hate and bullets. My beloved son and 48 others … were ripped from our lives. But it is becoming so commonplace, we’re beginning to accept it as normal. It is not normal for our children to die while they sit at school, eat at a restaurant, pray in church, listen to music at a concert or dance in a club.”
“We deserve better,” Wright added. “Our children deserve better. And we must let our leaders know that we expect better. … We mustn’t just lift our voice. We must roar.”
Here are the names, photos and stories of the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub massacre:
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Silva was originally from Manati, Puerto Rico, and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. He worked as a sales associate at Speedway. (Facebook)
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Murray recently graduated from West Catholic Prep in Philadelphia, according to the school. “Akyra was on a family vacation to celebrate graduation and visit her brother. A recent graduate, Akyra was a superstar who was a leader amongst her classmates and teammates,” the school said. “She was an honors student whom graduated third in her class, and a 1,000 point scorer on the Lady Burrs basketball team. Akyra recently signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Mercyhurst College. May God bless Akyra’s soul and provide comfort to all family and friends during this very troubling time.” Her father, Albert Murray, said on Facebook, “Thanks for all the prayers for my family we truly appreciate it,” her father, “I stand on my ancestors and God. I know she is in a safer place then America. Shit you can’t even go on vacation.” (West Catholic Prep)
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Barrios was one of the youngest victims of the attack. He is originally from Cuba. (Facebook)
Amanda Alvear, 25
Alvear was at the club with Mercedez Flores, who was also killed in the shooting. “The best God-Mother anyone could ever ask for. RIP Amanda Alvear. You will be missed my angel. I love you and I promise I will be there for him. I will watch over him for you,” her sister, Ashley Velez, wrote on Facebook. (Facebook)
Read more about Amanda Alvear here.
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Candelario was an ophtalmic technician at the Florida Retina Institute, according to his Facebook page. A native of Guanica, Puerto Rico, Candelario lived in Chicago from 2014 until recently, when he moved to Orlando. He was also a Zumba instructor. He graduated from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Recinto Metropolitano with a degree in nursing and from the Illinois College of Optometry, where he studied to be a nurse technician. Candelario wrote on his Facebook page, “I’m an adventurous, easy going but responsible man that would like to live the life completely.”
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
Laureano’s family was searching for him after he did not return home from the club after going out Saturday night, according to Rumba 100.3. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Laureano lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. (Facebook)
Read more about Anthony Laureano here.
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Brown was a captain in the Army Reserve and a graduate of Florida A&M University, the school said. A Cocoa Beach, Florida, native, he graduated in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice and was a member of the ROTC. He served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, his friend said on Twitter. (Facebook)
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
McCool was a mother of 11 originally from Brooklyn, New York, according to a GoFundMe page set up by one of her sons. She was at Pulse with her son and niece, both of whom survived, according to The Advocate. She had battled cancer twice, her son said on the GoFundMe page. He called her a “wonderful and caring woman.” McCool posted a video from inside Pulse just two hours before the shooting. “She was a fighter. A cancer survivor. A stellar mother. A proud and fierce advocate for her LGBT family,” Wilson Cruz wrote in a tribute to her on Facebook. “She spoke passionately about how much she loved her children. She was hilarious and loving and tore up the dance floor when salsa or anything was playing. I can’t believe she’s gone. I mourn with her kids and my entire family. The violence and hate has to end. The guns have to f*cking GO! Our hearts are BROKEN!” (Facebook)
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Leinonen, known as Drew, is pictured with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero. They were together at Pulse and were both killed in the attack. Leinonen’s mother was interviewed on several news stations about her son, hoping that he would be found safe. He lived in Orlando and was originally from Detroit, Michigan, according to his Facebook page.
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Sanfeliz, a Tampa resident originally from Cuba, worked at JPMorgan Chase, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Gaither High School in Tampa and went to Hillsborough Community College. His brother, Junior Sanfeliz, wrote a tribute to him on Facebook, saying, “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.” (Facebook)
Cory James Connell, 21
Connell was at Pulse with his girlfriend when he was killed. She was also shot and is recovering at a local hospital, according to Facebook posts from family and friends. Connell worked at Publix and was studying sports journalism/broadcasting at Valencia Community College, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Edgewater High School and lived in Ocoee, Florida. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his family pay for funeral expenses. He was a football player and an assistant coach for the Orlando Anarchy Women’s Football Team. (Facebook)
Darryl Roman Burt II
Burt was from Jacksonville, Florida, and was a member of the Jacksonville Jaycees, the organization said on Facebook. He worked as a financial aid officer Keiser University, according to the Florida Times-Union. “We are very saddened to be dealing with this loss. He was one of our family members and team members and he was very respected as an employee and a friend,” the school’s president, Lisamarie Winslow, told the Times-Union. “… As the morning has progressed, people have been hearing of his death. I have spoken to my staff and students as questions are being asked. We have grief couseleors to make sure they know who to go to if they are dealing with the pain and sadness.” Winslow called Burt a nice guy who always had a smile on his face. He previously worked as a district manager at McDonald’s and as a manager at Forever 21. (Facebook)
Read more about Darryl Burt here.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Drayton was known as “Dee Dee.” Her aunt, Patricia Drayton Banks, said on Facebook that Drayton was killed while working at Pulse. (Facebook)
Read more about Deonka Drayton here.
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Geraldo Ortiz, better known as Drake Ortiz, is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, according to his Facebook page. He has also lived in Puerto Rico and was residing in Orlando. (Facebook)
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Eddie Justice’s mother, Mina, shared the tragic final text messages from her son with the world. He frantically texted her “call them mommy … now.” He told her he was hiding in the bathroom, that the gunman was coming and “I’m gonna die.” After hours of prayers that the 30-year-old had survived the shooting, officials confirmed he was among the 50 victims killed. Justice was a homebody who worked as an accountant and lived in a condo in downtown Orlando, his mother told The Associated Press. “Lives in a sky house, like the Jeffersons,” she said. “He lives rich.” (Facebook)
Read more about Eddie Justice here.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., who went by Eddie, was a brand manager for a large gay travel agency called AlandChuckTravel, according to his Facebook page. He was from Sarasota, Florida, and previously lived in the Dominican Republic. His friends say he was known as “Top Hat Eddie.” He can be seen in a video taken at Pulse not long before the shooting. (Facebook)
You can read more about Edward Sotomayor here.
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
Rios was from Brooklyn, New York, and attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn, where he studied social work, according to his Facebook page. He worked as a coordinator for a home health care agency. “He was a great person with a heart of gold he touched so many lives and now he is gone forever!,” his cousin, Christine Jimenez wrote.(Facebook)
Read more about Enrique Rios here.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Ortiz lived in Miami and was originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, according to his Facebook page. He studied at Univercidad Central de Bayamon. (Facebook)
Read more about Ortiz here.
Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velazquez, 50
Jimmy DeJesus was a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. He graduated from Inter American University in Peurto Rico and worked as a visual merchandiser at Forever 21. (Facebook)
Read more about DeJesus here.
Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27
Frank Hernandez, who went by Frank Escalante, was originally from Weslaco, Texas, and had moved to Florida two years ago, his family told KGRV-TV. “Frank H. Escalante was just an absolute incredible person inside and out. Due to the unfortunate event that took place in Orlando at Pulse on July 12th he is now a victim who lost his life during the shooting,” said Linda Garza, who set up a GoFundMe page. Garza added that she, along with all his family and many friends would greatly appreciate any type of help we can get for funeral expenses. Thank you all so much. Again, any type of help is greatly appreciated by his family. God bless you all.”
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Josaphat was an Orlando resident who was called “young and talented” by family friends. A friend said on Facebook, “Many lives taken, many families heartbroken, this was Not suppose to happen to Us Orlando…my heart is shattered and my prayers are with all my FB friends and family who lost a love one….words cannot describe how we are aching. JASON was the last body found this morning …he was still in the bathroom where he was held hostage with others.” (Facebook)
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jorge, who went by the name Harvey George Kings on Facebook, worked at Gucci as a supervisor. He lived in Orlando and was a native of Guayama, Puerto Rico. “I can’t deal. Goodbye Harvey George Kings. Your energy and love of life and of all things beautiful was infectious,” his friend, Ray McGee, wrote on Facebook. “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” (Facebook)
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Mendez was at the club with Luis Daniel Wilson Leon, who was also killed, according to several messages posted by friends searching for them after the shooting. (Facebook)
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Nieves, who went to high school in Orlando and was originally from Puerto Rico, was a general manager at a check cashing business, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He bought his first house a month and a half ago and also wanted to help his mother find a new place to live, friends told the newspaper. “He was just a caring, loving guy — just like a big teddy bear,” Ivonne Irizarry told the Sentinel. “He wanted to be the best at what he did, and he would work very hard to achieve that. So if he had to put in the long hours to get it right, he’d do it. If he had to stay to work a double [shift], he did it. That’s why whatever job he went to, he became a manager.” (Facebook)
Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright, 31
Wright worked at Disney World as a seasonal worker in the Magic Kingdom, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s hard to understand, but the people with you work with at Disney, they are an amazing family,” former co-worker Scott Dickison told the newspaper. “Jerry was a great guy to work with. He was quiet but really wonderful with all the guests. He always had a smile on his face.” Wright’s parents live in Miami, the newspaper reports. He was at Pulse to celebrate the 21st birthday of a friend, Cory Connell, who was also killed. Wright had a degree in hospitality management from Florida International University and also studied marketing at Northeastern University, according to his Linkedin profile. In addition to working at Disney, Wright worked in marketing and sales. (Facebook)
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Rayon went to high school in Winter Garden, Florida, and studied at Lake-Sumter State College, according to his Facebook page. A friend told the Orlando Sentinel that Rayon was born in Mexico and had just returned to Florida after living there for several years. “He was the best,” his friend, Lorena Barragan said. “He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better.” Barragan said Rayon was religious and worked in construction, sending money to his family in Mexico. (Facebook)
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Camuy was a producer for the Telemundo show “La Voz Kids,” which is based in Orlando. “We want to extend our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences to Jonathan’s family and friends,” said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, in a statement. “He was a great assistant producer and had been working with us since ‘Yo Soy el Artista’ and previously at Telemundo Puerto Rico. Most recently, he was working in audience management in the current season of ‘La Voz Kids.’ Jonathan will be missed dearly…” Camuy was a graduate of Universidad de Puerto Rico en Arecibo, according to his Facebook page.
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25
Juan Chavez Martinez was a native of Huichapan, Mexico, and lived in Davenport, Florida, according to his Facebook page.
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Rivera was at Pulse with Luis Conde, who was also killed in the shooting. He was originally from Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page. He was the owner of D’Magaazine Salon & Spa.(Facebook)
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Guerrero was a student at the University of Central Florida and worked as a telemarketer, his cousin, Robert Guerrero, told Local News 10. “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.” Guerrero’s boyfriend, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen was with him at Pulse during the shooting and was also killed.
Kimberly “KJ” Morris, 37
Kimberly Morris, who went by KJ, lived in Orlando, Florida, and was originally from Torrington, Connecticut, according to her Facebook page. Morris graduated from Torrington High School in 1996. She was a bouncer at Pulse, the nightclub where the shooting occurred. She had only recently started working there, friends said on Facebook. While living in the northeast, she would perform at Diva’s Nightclub in Northhampton, Massachusetts, the club posted on Facebook. “We are deeply saddened to loose a member of our Diva’s family . KJ Morris who preformed as Daddy K. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends,” the post said. “We will always remember her smile and her amazing way she lite up the stage in her performances. Keep dancing KJ … And we’ll keep smiling remembering you!!” (Facebook)
Read more about KJ Morris here.
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Leroy “Roy” Fernandez was a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico. He lived in Orlando and worked as a leasing agent at an apartment complex. (Facebook)
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Conde was at Pulse with Juan P. Rivera, who was also killed in the shooting. He was originally from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, and lived in Orlando, according to his Facebook page.(Facebook)
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Wilson, who went by Lestat Wilson on Facebook, was at Pulse with Juan Carlos Mendez Perez, who was also killed in the shooting, according to friends. “A wonderful young man full of life, who endured countless days of bullying while growing up, by cruel people calling him all sorts of horrendous homophobic slurs,” friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano wrote on Facebook. “He was the first person on this earth I came out to, and he always protected and loved his friends. His strength and character was always an inspiration to all of us. We were both members of the same church and we both reveled against it, and against the spiritual tyrants that kept condemning us for giving what the world needs the most: love.” (Facebook)
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Omar Capo was a dancer, according to his Facebook page. He worked at Starbucks in a Target store in Kissimmee, his co-worker, Claudia Mason, wrote on Facebook. “He lit up any area he worked in, especially Starbucks,” she said. “So sad that his life was cut so short by such an evil person! Pray for Omar’s family.” (Facebook)
Read more about him here.
Vielma was a student at Seminole State College of Florida and worked at Universal Studies in Orlando, as a production assistant at Disaster Studios and a ride attendant at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, according to his Facebook page. He posted a photo with his friends at Disney World just hours before the shooting writing, “True friends who become family.” (Facebook)
Read more about Luis Vielma here.
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Benitez was from Puerto Rico. He studied at the Ana G. Méndez University System in San Juan, according to his Facebook page. He was visiting family in Orlando, he posted on Facebook the day before the shooting. (Facebook)
Read more about Martin Benitez here.
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Rodriguez, who went by Mary, was from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and Orlando, according to her Facebook page. She was married and had two young sons, friends said on Facebook. She was at Pulse with her her brother-in-law, who was shot twice but survived the attack, and Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, who was killed, according to the New York Times. Her brother-in-law, William Sabad Borges, told the Times that Camuy was trying to protect Rodriguez and died as a hero.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Mercedez Flores was as Pulse with her friend, Amanda Alvear, according to family members who were searching for them after the shooting. She lived in Davenport, Florida, and was originally from Queens, New York, according to her Facebook page. Flores worked at Target and studied at Valencia Community College. (Facebook)
Read more about Mercedez Flores here.
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Honorato was Apopka, Florida, and worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering, according to his Facebook page. His brother, Enrique, wrote on Facebook, “Man i wouldve never thought this would happen to you… I remember the good old times when we went to mexico and the days we went to tennessee. I cant face the fact that my Blood Brother is gone. … Im never going to forget you . May your soul rest in peace Brother??❤️ I love you so much ❤️” (Facebook)
Read more about Miguel Honorato here.
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Aracena was at Pulse with Simon Carrillo, who was also killed in the shooting. His cousin, Joel Aracena, in a Facebook post in Spanish, remembered Aracena for his humility and wisdom. “I’m going to miss you as long as life.” (Facebook)
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Henry lived in Orlando. He was a St. Petersburg native who loved to dance and have fun. He had two children, a daughter who recently graduated from high school and a son, his boyfriend, Francisco Hernandez, told the Orlando Sentinel. Henry was planning to go back to school. “He knew I had the potential for greater things. I had three years of college but didn’t finish. He wanted the best for me, to succeed and to help me make something of myself. I am definitely going to do that for him. I am going to make something of myself.” Hernandez said he will miss Henry’s smile.
Gonzalez-Cruz, who went by Peter Ommy, was originally from New Jersey and worked at UPS in Florida, according to his Facebook page. (Facebook)
Read more about him here.
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Ayala was originally from San German, Puerto Rico, and lived in Kissimmee, Florida, according to his Facebook page. He attended InterAmerican San German and worked at OneBlood, the Florida blood bank that was overwhelmed Sunday by people looking to donate blood for the victims of the shooting. He was a biologics assistant. A friend, Nailea Disla, wrote on Facebook, “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.” (Facebook)
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Tomlinson lived in Orlando and graduated from East Carolina University, according to his Facebook page. He was the manager and lead vocalist for Frequency Band, an Orlando-based cover band. “Ordinary guy living an extra-ordinary life using my God given gift to navigate through this journey,” Tomlinson wrote in his Facebook “About Me” section. He was originally from Concord, North Carolina. He went to Pulse after performing at a nearby club, friends said. “Shane was talented beyond his years, he carried a light that anyone who knew him could see. I remember hurting in laughter from hours spent listening to him carry on about almost anything and making it hilarious. He only wanted to make the world a brighter place! Shane you will be missed dearly,” a friend, Andy Carter, wrote on Facebook. (Facebook)
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Carrillo was at Pulse with Oscar Aracena, who was also killed in the shooting, his friends say. “This world is so messed up!!!…you see it in the new, hate and tragedy comes to your town …then you find out these two amazing, full of life young hard working loving couple, that always minded there own business,” Denise Ortiz-Pagan wrote on Facebook. “that got home saturday afternoon from an amazing vacation were among the perished ones and it just rips you heart out. Simon A. Carrillo and Oscar Aracena Rest in Peace you beautiful souls…and may we all find a way to heal and go on! God help us!!!!” (Facebook)
Almodovar lived in Clermont, Florida, and was originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, according to his Facebook profile. He worked as an administrative pharmacy technician at Covance. (Facebook)
Read more about Almodovar here.
Tevin Eugene Crosby
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Serrano worked at Disney Live!, according to his Facebook page. A friend, Antonia Doric, wrote a tribute to him on Facebook, saying, “You have brought so much laughter and light into this world not only through your performance but through that gracious smile. I can’t believe you are gone, and gone too soon. You will remain living in the memories of all the people who have been lucky enough to have met you and those special memories will always bring a smile. May your beautiful soul rest in peace. Heaven has welcomed another angel, and I’m sure you will continue to dance with the angels above pappi ❤️ My condolences to everyone who has lost a family member or friend who they love in the tragic Orlando mass shooting. It saddens me that the world has become a place far from peaceful.”