Victim’s last Snapchat starts with dancing, ends in gunfire
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amanda Alvear’s last Snapchat video post begins with a shot of her on the dance floor of an Orlando nightclub surrounded by friends. It ends with gunshots ringing out over the music.
Alvear, 25, was identified by police on Monday as one of 49 people killed by a gunman at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Alvear’s friend Mercedez Flores, 26, who worked for Target, also was on the list. The Orlando Police Department has so far named 48 of the victims.
On Monday, Alvear’s sister, Ashley Velez posted a photo of the pair, writing, “two beautiful souls have been taken way too soon. My sister Amanda is on the right and her best friend Mercedez Flores. You girls will be missed.”
Edward Sotomayor, 34, was a marketing manager at a Sarasota, Florida-based gay-themed travel company. His boss, Al Ferguson, said Sotomayor’s partner was outside the club putting something in a car when the shots rang out.
He got a text from Sotomayor telling him he was safe in the bathroom and not to come back into the club. Sotomayor texted again 20 minutes later to say he was OK. That was the last his partner heard from him, Ferguson said.
Sotomayor was a legend in the industry, Ferguson said. He booked tours for entertainer and drag queen RuPaul and put together the first gay cruise to Cuba last year. He was going to announce a second trip on Sunday, but was killed.
“Anyone who booked gay cruises knew Sotomayor,” Ferguson told Reuters. “He was a great man.”
Cory Connell, a 21-year old college student from the nearby suburb of Edgewater, loved to play football and worked part-time at a local grocery store, friends recalled.
He was out at the club with his girlfriend. She was listed in stable condition on Monday, but Cory died after being shot in the stomach and chest, his local College Park newspaper reported.
“It’s hard to find one person who did not know Cory,” Debbie Goetz, a family friend, told Reuters. “He had this exceptionally sincere smile … looked you right in the eye every time.”
“He was a very special guy. Everyone loved Cory.”
Author J.K. Rowling was among the best known figures to express a tribute to the victims on social media, tweeting about a man who had worked at the “Harry Potter” theme park in Orlando.
“Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal,” Rowling posted on Twitter. “He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying. #Orlando”
Vielma had worked part time while studying physical therapy at Seminole State College, according to his Facebook profile.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, and Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37, were also reported dead on Monday. The Orlando Sentinel wrote that the couple fell in love when Perez charmed Wilson-Leon into buying perfume at the store where he worked.
“That pain so big feels my heart to see their names on that list … Rest in peace my beloved friends!!!!” wrote Tommy-Emanuel Quinones-Garcia.
Hairstylist Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, and his partner Luis Conde, 39, both from Puerto Rico, had been together for 13 years, according to posts on social media.
“You will always be together in heaven and in our hearts,” friend Nelia Bauza wrote on Facebook.
In the hours after the nightclub shooting and before police had released his name among the dead, friends of student Martin Benitez Torres, 33, had been searching for any sign that he was safe.
“Please, I need your number it’s urgent call me I left my number inbox,” a frantic Myriam Torres wrote on Sunday morning at 5:32 a.m., when police were in a stand-off with the gunman inside the club.
The post was never answered by Torres.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Peter Cooney, Toni Reinhold)