US police begin publishing names of Orlando nightclub shooting victims

(Clockwise from top left) Stanley Almodovar III, Edward Sotomayor Jr. Luis Vielma,  Juan Ramon Guerrero and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Flori
(Clockwise from top left) Stanley Almodovar III, Edward Sotomayor Jr. Luis Vielma, Juan Ramon Guerrero and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12. PHOTOS: REUTERS
Stanley Almodovar III (left) and Edward Sotomayor Jr. are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12.
Stanley Almodovar III (left) and Edward Sotomayor Jr. are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12. PHOTOS: REUTERS
(From left)  Luis Vielma, Juan Ramon Guerrero and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12.
(From left) Luis Vielma, Juan Ramon Guerrero and Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera are identified by the police as victims of the shooting massacre that happened at the Pulse nightclub of Orlando, Florida, on June 12. PHOTOS: REUTERS

ORLANDO (Reuters) - A day before the Orlando, Florida 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 was altered to "Remember Luis Vielma" after the police confirmed he was among 50 people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

As the authorities frantically tried to notify all the relatives, the Orlando Police Department began publishing the names of victims on a city website on Sunday afternoon.

Among them was Mr Vielma, who worked part-time as a rides 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.

Others included Mr Edward Sotomayor Jr, 34, Mr Stanley Almodovar III, 23, Mr Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20, Mr Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, Mr Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36, and Mr Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22.

Police killed the gunman, who was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a New York-born Florida resident and US citizen who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan, and officials were probing evidence suggesting the attack may have been inspired by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

 

The sheer number of deaths appeared to overwhelm officials in Orlando, a city of 270,000 people. Orlando Police asked mourners to hold off on vigils as they were understaffed to police them.

"We understand our community is grieving and that vigils are being planned but PLEASE hold off on vigils - they represent a serious strain on our limited resources, which we need to dedicate to law enforcement and victims," the city posted on its official Twitter handle.

Mr Sotomayor was a marketing manager at a Sarasota, Florida-based gay-themed travel company.

His boss Al Ferguson said Mr Sotomayor's partner was outside the nightclub putting something in the car 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 into the club. Mr Sotomayor texted again 20 minutes later to say he was okay.

That was the last his partner heard from him, Mr Ferguson said.

Mr Sotomayor was a legend in the industry, Mr 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," Mr Ferguson told Reuters. "He was a great man."

In an Instagram post published on Sunday, RuPaul's Drag Race judge Michelle Visage called Mr Sotomayor "a joy". "I loved you on so many levels. You were SO SO special and will never be forgotten," she wrote. "I promise you that."

Neighbors of Mr Almodovar, a 23-year-old pharmacy technician Clermont, Florida, said his parents had recently moved back to Puerto Rico after his mother became ill with cancer. He was the youngest in the family.

His Facebook page 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 of Deltona, Florida.

Images posted to Mr Almodovar's wall over the years showed him socialising with dozens of friends. "I will always remember you," Jeannette Molina wrote. "Your beautiful personality and spirit."