A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday, leaving at least 49 people dead in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Here are stories of some of the victims.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37, barely spoke English when he moved from Puerto Rico to Florida in 2004, but he wasn’t deterred by the language barrier.
He quickly learned English, got a job and eventually met his partner, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, who also died.
“(Wilson-Leon) walked into the room and all eyes were on him because of his positive energy, just what he radiated … I’m heartbroken,” said his cousin, Laly Santiago-Leon, adding that the couple frequented Pulse and loved Latin Night.
Longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano described Wilson-Leon as a protector and confidante. The two grew up in the same small town, and when Gmys-Casiano moved to the U.S., Wilson-Leon gave him a job in a shoe store.
“He was my hero,” Gmys-Casiano told the Orlando Sentinel.
Even though Wilson-Leon had been bulled for his sexuality, Gmys-Casiano said, “he never retaliated with hate. … He would stand to protect his friends.”
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35, had a humor and warmth that made him a great salesman — and helped him find love, a co-worker said.
“He laughed with the people and would make jokes,” said Claudia Agudelo, who worked with Perez at a perfume store. “He was always happy.”
Mendez Perez met his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, about a decade ago when he sold him the fragrance Declaration by Cartier, Agudelo told the Orlando Sentinel. Wilson-Leon also died in the nightclub shooting.
Mendez Perez moved to the U.S. from Puerto Rico when he was a teenager, and made friends quickly, father Angel Mendez said.
“He was a real dynamic kid,” he said.
Sister-in-law Katia Mendez said Mendez Perez also was a fun-loving and doting uncle who would buy her three children candy and ice cream.
“He was like a little kid when he was with them,” she said.
Capt. Antonio Davon Brown, 29, served in the Army Reserve and deployed to Kuwait for nearly a year.
Brown graduated in 2008 from Florida A&M, where he majored in criminal justice and participated in the ROTC program.
Lt. Col. Kelvin Scott, a ROTC instructor, remembered Brown’s positive attitude and sense of humor.
“He kept a smile on his face,” Scott told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. “He was willing to work very hard to earn his commission.”
Devonta White, a friend of Brown’s, said Brown was known in their dorm for waking up early for drills and becoming close friends with his fellow trainees, but also making friends outside of ROTC.
“He had a car so when he went to Wal-Mart, I would ride with him,” White said. “We just became good friends over time. He helped me more than he knows.”
An Army service record shows Brown deployed to Kuwait from April 2010 to March 2011.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29, worked as a financial aid officer for Keiser University in Jacksonville, Florida, campus.
As a volunteer, he co-chaired a clothing drive for the homeless for the Jacksonville Jaycees, a nonprofit organization.
“Darryl was very passionate about working in the community and wasn’t afraid to take the lead,” Jacksonville Jaycees President Shawn DeVries told the Indianapolis Star. “If someone needed anything, he’d usually just ask for the details: where, when and what are the deadlines.”
Burt left behind family in central Indiana, and recently earned a degree in human resources management.
Keiser University’s chancellor Arthur Keiser called Burt “a highly respected member of the KU team” on the school’s website, and the school was providing grief counselors to help Burt’s colleagues.
Source : MSN/AP