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.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, went to Pulse nightclub almost every weekend, often with her best friend Amanda Alvear, Flores' sister-in-law said Monday. Alvear also was listed among the dead in the shooting.
"She was very outgoing," Nancy Flores said of Mercedez. "She had lots of friends. They used to always meet up at Pulse."
Born in Queens, New York, the 26-year-old Mercedez moved to Florida when she was a child, her sister-in-law said. Mercedez worked at Target and studied at Valencia College, a local community college. She wanted to become a party planner so she could coordinate events with her two older brothers, who are both DJs.
She loved to go out and meet new people, Nancy Flores said. Just minutes before the shooting began, Mercedez posted a video on Snapchat from the party inside Pulse, where "Latin Night" was winding down.
"It was just a video of her having fun with her friends, having some drinks, enjoying the music," Nancy Flores said.
News of the shooting broke shortly afterward. Her family spent hours waiting at Orlando Regional Medical Center, then a staging area at a nearby hotel.
Someone came to read the names of victims still hospitalized or being released. Mercedez Flores' name wasn't on the list.
It wasn't until the early hours of Monday that her father got a call from the sheriff's office that his daughter had died, Nancy Flores said.
At first, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo seemed brash to 70-year-old Claudia Mason, who worked with "Omar" at the Starbucks inside a Kissimmee Target store.
But after getting to know her much younger co-worker, "I realized he had a very outgoing personality," said Mason. "His sense of humor was definitely his defining personality trait."
Ocasio-Capo, 20, was hired as a cashier before moving over to the Starbucks, and became a great barista, Mason said.
"I think he found his niche at Starbucks," she said. "Omar got along with everyone. Young, old, male, female, gay, or straight, it didn't matter to Omar."
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 -- known among family and friends as "Ommy" -- was always the life of the party.
"Peter makes a difference everywhere he goes. He was a happy person. If Peter is not at the party, no one wants to go," his aunt, Sonia Cruz, said.
Gonzalez-Cruz went to Pulse on Saturday night with his best friend, 25-year-old Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez. After news of the mass shooting emerged, Cruz said she held out hope for hours that her nephew would turn up in a hospital bed.
But late Sunday afternoon, she was told he was among those killed at the club.
Cruz said she had her nephew's car keys and was hoping to collect his car Sunday evening. It was parked at a Wendy's across the street from Pulse, one of many with yellow police caution tape tucked under the windshield wipers, vehicles left behind by victims of the shooting.
Cruz said her nephew worked at UPS.
Edward Sotomayor, 34, was a caring, energetic man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, according to David Sotomayor, who said the two discovered they were cousins after meeting at Orlando's annual Gay Days festival around a decade ago.
David Sotomayor, who lives in Chicago, told The Associated Press 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 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 said. "It's just heartbreaking to know it just can happen anytime."
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, told his cousin Robert Guerrero he was gay about two years ago, but he was worried about how the rest of his family would react. 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 a gay nightclub, Pulse, 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."
Stanley Almodovar III's mother had prepared a tomato-and-cheese dip for him to eat when he came home from his night out.
Instead, Rosalie Ramos was awakened by a call at 2 a.m. Sunday telling her something had happened.
Ramos told the Orlando Sentinel her son, a 23-year-old pharmacy technician, posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing on his way to Pulse nightclub.
"I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever," she told the newspaper.
A friend, Hazel Ramirez, told the Washington Post she also saw a video from Almodovar on Snapchat and learned Sunday afternoon what had happened.
Ramirez described Almodovar as "kind, but sassy," and someone who was comfortable with his own sexual identity.
"He was so proud of who he was," she told the Post. "He would do his makeup better than anyone else. It was so easy to be myself with him.
Kimberly Morris, 37, moved to Orlando just months ago and had taken a job at Pulse nightclub as a bouncer, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
"She was so excited," ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the newspaper. "She'd just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there," Shelton said.
Friends described Morris as a kind, sweet person.
Narvell Benning met Morris when they were in college at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut, where Benning said they both played basketball.
"I can't think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face," Benning told the Sentinel. "I'm so thankful of the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal."
Everyone loved Luis Vielma, a 22-year-old who worked at Universal Studios, friends said.
High school friend Eddi Anderson told the Tampa Bay Times that Vielma loved his job at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and was known for his pleasant attitude and warm demeanor.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books that spawned the movies and Orlando theme park, tweeted a picture of Vielma in a Hogwarts school tie, and said: "I can't stop crying."
Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal, told the Orlando Sentinel: "He was always a friend you could call. He was always open and available."
Vielma "just wanted to make people smile," another co-worker, Olga Glomba, said.
The city of Orlando is releasing the names and ages of all 49 victims after family members are notified. They include:
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
- Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
- Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
- Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
- Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
- Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
- Cory James Connell, 21 years old
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
- Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
- Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
- Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
- Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
- Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old