Orlando shooting: The victims

Shocked family and friends pour out feelings in moving tributes

Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside. Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Ri
Those mourning Mr Luis Vielma, a part-time Harry Potter theme park ride attendant, included author J.K. Rowling.
Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside. Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Ri
Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside.
Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside. Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Ri
Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer.
Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside. Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Ri
Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera (above) followed others to Pulse after a party.
Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr messaged his partner, who was outside the club when the shots rang out, not to go back inside. Mr Stanley Almodovar's parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Ri
Mr Juan Ramon Guerrero (above) liked the music at the club.

ORLANDO (Florida) • A day before the Orlando nightclub massacre, Mr Luis Vielma, 22, updated his Facebook profile with a picture of himself standing with young people in front of a Disney castle and a caption that read: "True friends who become family."

By Sunday night, his profile said "Remember Luis Vielma" after police confirmed he was among 49 victims of the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

Mr Vielma worked part-time as an attendant at the Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey theme park ride while studying physical therapy at Seminole State College, according to his Facebook profile.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling posted her sympathy on Twitter. Mr Vielma's co-workers responded, praising his good humour. "He was a true Gryffindor... You would be proud of him," said one.

Others killed included Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr, 34, a marketing manager at a Florida-based travel company. His boss, Mr Al Ferguson, said Mr Sotomayor's partner was outside the Pulse nightclub when the shots rang out. He got a text from Mr Sotomayor telling him he was safe in the bathroom and not to come back inside. Another text 20 minutes later said he was okay. That was the last his partner heard from him, Mr Ferguson said.

Mr Sotomayor booked tours for entertainer RuPaul and put together the first gay cruise to Cuba last year. He was a legend in the travel industry, Mr Ferguson said.

Neighbours of Mr Stanley Almodovar III, 23, a pharmacy technician, said his parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer.

The Facebook page for Mr Almodovar, of Clermont, Florida, was flooded with shocked tributes.

"We'll miss you, Stanley. You made an impact on everyone that you came around. A good person and friend," wrote Mr Mark Nielsen.

Ms Jeannette Molina wrote: "I will always remember you. Your beautiful personality and spirit."

Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera, 36, came to Florida from Puerto Rico to work his way up in his career and have a chance at a better life, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"Eric was always willing to help everybody. He sacrificed himself a lot for his family," said his former roommate Abismel Colon Gomez.

Mr Ortiz worked in merchandise management, including for Toys R Us. He held a degree in communications, Mr Colon Gomez said.

"He was not usually a club-scene person," he told the Orlando Sentinel, explaining that Mr Ortiz had attended a house-warming for a friend earlier and continued on with others from the party to Pulse.

"My heart breaks. We have seven friends who were there, and already we know three are dead," he said.

Anguished relatives outside a hotel near Orlando Regional Medical Centre waited 16 hours until a list of survivors was read out. The name of Mr Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 was not on it. He, too, was dead.

Mr Guerrero, who worked as a telemarketer and studied at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, was a committed student, said his uncle, Mr Robert Guerrero. "A very kind human being," he added.

The elder Guerrero said his nephew, like others in his Dominican family, liked the Latin music played at Pulse. But he said his nephew's true nature was to be quiet.

The uncle wrote on Facebook: "Once again the tentacles of death have touched our family, this time at the hands of a coward, a scoundrel, a disgusting human being without any scruples."

REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Shocked family and friends pour out feelings in moving tributes'. Print Edition | Subscribe