As federal and local officials continue their investigation into the deadly Orlando nightclub attack, city officials began to release the names and ages of victims on Sunday night whose next of kin have been contacted.
At least 50 people killed and 53 wounded after a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS opened fire in the packed Pulse nightclub before police stormed the building and killed the shooter.
The list will be periodically updated on a city website, as those who died are identified and families and loved ones notified.
The city gave no additional information other than the names.
— Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
— Stanley Almodovar III, 23
— Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
— Juan Ramon Guerroro, 22
— Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
— Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
— Luis S. Vielma, 22
Edward Sotomayor, 34, was a caring, energetic man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, David Sotomayor, who identified himself as the victim’s cousin, told the Associated Press.
David Sotomayor, who lives in Chicago, told the AP on Sunday that Edward worked for a company that held gay cruises and often traveled to promote the company’s events.
“He was just always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor said.
The two discovered they were related after meeting at Orlando’s annual Gay Days festival around a decade ago. They 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 said.
David Sotomayor is a drag queen who appeared on a season of the show using the name “Jade.” He 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,” David Sotomayor told the AP. “It’s just heartbreaking to know it just can happen anytime.”
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 just before the beginning of this year. And when he did? “They were very accepting,” said 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 the nightclub that his cousin had gone to 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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.