Orlando shooting: More victims' names released

As family members are notified, the City of Orlando, Fla., continues to release the names of the victims from Sunday morning's mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. Here are some of their stories.

Friends, family remember victims of Florida shooting

Thousands of people gathered Monday evening near the site of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., to remember the 49 people who were killed by a gunman in the worst such attack in U.S. history.

The vigil was held on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center, the area's main performing arts venue. Many in the crowd said they were inspired to attend because the Pulse nightclub had played a huge role in their lives as gays and lesbians.

"It was a place that a young 20-year-old who wasn't openly gay felt safe for the first time," said Cathleen Daus, now 36.

Mourners piled bouquets around a makeshift memorial and people broke down in tears and held their hands to their faces while passing through the growing collection of flowers, candles and signs about a kilometre from the site of the attack.

Several other Florida communities large and small also had events planned, and there were vigils scheduled across the U.S. and Canada. 

Mourners gathered Monday evening in Orlando, Fla., to remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

As family members are notified, the City of Orlando continues to release the names of the victims from the massacre.​

"Our city is working tirelessly to get as much information out to the families so they can begin the grieving process," reads the city's webpage. "As we continue to reach out to the families of victims, we will continue to update this post."

Here are the stories of some of the victims:

Edward Sotomayor

Edward Sotomayor, 34, was a caring, energetic man, 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 travelled to promote the company's events.

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

The cousins 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, a drag queen who appeared on a season of the show using the name "Jade," 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," he said. "It's just heartbreaking to know it just can happen any time."

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice tapped out a series of chilling text messages to his mother from a bathroom at the Orlando nightclub. The 45-minute exchange began with a message of love.

"Mommy I love you," the first message to Mina Justice said at 2:06 a.m. Then: "In club they shooting."

The messages stopped shortly after he confirmed to her that the gunman was nearby.

Eddie Justice, 30, was normally a homebody who liked to eat and work out, his mother said. He liked to make everyone laugh, worked as an accountant and lived in a condo in downtown Orlando.

"Lives in a sky house, like the Jeffersons," she would say. "He lives rich."

Juan Ramon Guerrero

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, had told his cousin Robert Guerrero, that he was gay about two years ago but he was worried about how the rest of his family would react so he did not tell them until the end of last year.

And when he did? "They were very accepting," said Robert 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, where his cousin went 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.

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 demeanour.

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.

Mercedez Marisol Flores 

Mercedez Marisol Flores went to Pulse nightclub almost every weekend, Flores' sister-in-law said Monday.

"She was very outgoing," Nancy Flores said. "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 co-ordinate events with her two older brothers, who are both DJs.

After Sunday's 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 early Monday that her father got a call from the sheriff's office that his daughter had died, Nancy Flores said.

Flores often went to the nightclub with her best friend, Amanda Alvear, who also died in the shooting.

Amanda Alvear

​Amanda Alvear, 25, was "loving" and "caring," her friend Sandy Marte said. "She always had an open ear, she always wanted to help people."

Marte said Alvear had lost a lot of weight following gastric bypass surgery and he was encouraging her to socialize and enjoy life.

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

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz

Known among family and friends as "Ommy," Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz 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, 22, went to Pulse on Saturday night with his best friend, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, also a victim of the shooting.

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 needed collect his car. 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.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo wanted to be a star. The 20-year-old dancer was working at a Starbucks inside a Target store while studying theatre and was supposed to audition for a play this week, his sister, Belinette Ocasio-Capo, said.

"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, she said she realized he had a "very outgoing" personality.

"His sense of humour was definitely his defining personality trait," Mason added. "Omar got along with everyone. Young, old, male, female, gay, or straight, it didn't matter to Omar."

Jonathan Camuy

Jonathan Camuy moved to central Florida from his native Puerto Rico to work for the Spanish-language television network Telemundo.

The 25-year-old was on the production team for La Voz Kids, a talent show for young singers in its fourth season. He had previously worked for the network in Puerto Rico.

"Jonathan was an extremely hard-working individual, full of life, enthusiastic and with a great personality," the network said in a statement. "He will be missed dearly."

Camuy was also active in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Tevin Eugene Crosby

Tevin Eugene Crosby's inspirational posts on Facebook — "2016 will be the best year ever" — represented his drive for success.

Chavis Crosby told the Orlando Sentinel that his brother was ambitious and hard-working. "Whatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal."

The 25-year-old was director of operations for a Michigan marketing firm. He recently visited his family in Statesville, North Carolina, to watch several nieces and nephews graduate and travelled to Orlando after passing along some advice about business and setting goals.

He loved to travel for work and fun, Chavis Crosby said. "He was definitely a good person and a good brother to me."

The victims who have been publicly identified so far are as follows:

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

With files from CBC News