First victims of Orlando mass shooting identified

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The city of Orlando, Florida, is working to notify the loved ones of victims in the tragic gay nightclub shooting that took the lives of at least 50 people, making it the deadliest shooting in American history.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted that although the Pulse nightclub is still an active crime scene, “law enforcement is working the scene as efficiently and diligently as possible while being respectful to the remains of the deceased.”

A website is being set up to identify victims after their families have been notified. So far the list includes:

• Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
• Stanley Almodovar III, 23
• Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
• Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
• Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
• Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
• Luis S. Vielma, 22
• Kimberly Morris, 37

The list online is being updated as authorities make contact with the victims’ families.

Near the hospital in Orlando, family members and friends streamed onto the sidewalk, screaming and crying after learning their loved ones were killed in the attack. Family members and friends crumbled over themselves as they stepped outside and a grief counselor was seen comforting people. Hundreds of people had gathered to find out the status of their missing loved ones.

A mother screamed, “My baby. Oh god. Oh god. Why, why did he do this to you,” as her husband rocked her.

According to families at the scene, they were given a list of everyone who was brought to the hospital and is safe. But many are still waiting word. One man says he was told he would not revive word on his cousins’s status until tomorrow.

The families and loved ones tell PEOPLE they are upset with the way the notification process is being handled.

“They were the most un-empathetic people ever. They said if your family members not on the list then maybe hey they didn’t make it. That is not the way to say that someone is dead. We can only think he might be dead we just don’t know,” Sarah Lopez tells PEOPLE as she waits for news on her brother Jimmy DeJesus, 51, a former professional dancer for Gibaro de Puerto Rico.

“What can we do? We pray. We hope. And we pray and we hope,” she adds.

Mayor Dyer also asked that anyone who may know a possible victim call a hotline at 407-246-4357.

A Facebook account apparently belonging to Almodovar was flooded with RIP messages from friends following the attack and his page was turned int a memorial. Sotomayor worked at ALand CHUCK.travel, a gay travel agency. (ALandCHUCK.travel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In a series of tweets, Mayor Dyer addressed the aftermath of the tragedy.

“Our community will be grieving together for the next days, weeks and months,” he wrote. “We need to support each other, love each other and this will not define us but will bring us together.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott asked the nation to pause for a moment of silence at 6 p.m. ET to remember victims.

According to police, a single gunman opened fire just after 2 a.m. local time at Pulse, a popular gay club south of downtown Orlando. An officer working at the club initially responded to the shooter, “engaging in the gun battle with the suspect” before the suspect went back into the club, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a Sunday morning news conference.

The shooter held 30 people hostage for several hours. At 5 a.m., police moved in to rescue the hostages. More gunshots followed, and police also used explosives in an attempt to distract the suspect. Eventually, the gunman was shot and killed by police.

 

Source: people.com

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