In the days following the largest mass shooting in U.S. history in Orlando, Florida, families and friends of the 49 victims have been sharing their grief and providing deeper portraits of the people they knew among many lives lost.
Telemundo correspondent Sofia Lachapelle recently spoke with José Luis Morales, who lost five friends in the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, where a night of dancing and music turned deadly.
"This is not something you forget, justice must be served,” Morales said, relating what he would tell President Barack Obama about the massacre. But, he added, that those left behind, at some point, would have to lock away the horror of the carnage to move on.
Through tears, Morales reflected on the relationships he built with his friends.
"They were the best," Morales said, breaking his sorrow with a smile.
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, a 24-year-old victim of the shooting, lived near Kissimmee, her aunt, Viviana Ramos said. Rodriguez Solivan was a mother of two. One of her children was 6 years old and the other had just turned 3 months, Ramos said.
Solivan's brother-in-law William Borges, who was at the Orlando gay nightclub with them, poured his grief out in a Facebook posting, the paper reported.
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"I swear, my heart has a ladder tall enough to reach you both,'' he wrote. "Mary, you leave me with a pain that I never thought I would feel.'"
Ramos told NBC News: “Yilmary 'Mi Piojito' (little one) rest in peace and enjoy being with the Lord. Watch over your children from heaven. I am heartbroken…but I have to see the positive and think that you are in a better place. We will always have you in our hearts.”
The many Hispanic victims shaken the city's Latino community, which numbers about 500,000. Nearly half of the victims were Puerto Rican; 23 out of the 49 pronounced dead.
Puerto Rico's leading paper “El Nuevo Dia”, wrote of one man, Jason Colón Ibarrondo, who knew 12 of the victims.
Ibarrondo, a nine-year Orlando resident, still has five friends in the hospital. "They told me that my five friends in the hospital are stable, but this is all very difficult to explain," he said.
Feeling angry and helpless about everything that happened, Ibarrondo said that the loss and injury of his friends in the violent attack has left him feeling “scared" when he’s alone in his house.
Jose Luis Paniagua, uncle of Mexican native Joel Rayon Paniagua, said his nephew was in the club the night of the shooting but, “we never heard back from him. He never came back home. When we looked at the list released, we saw his name there.”
Telemundo also spoke with the siblings of Venezuelan native Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez who was killed in this weekend’s shooting along with his partner Oscar A. Aracena-Montero.“He was a very hard-worker. He was studying in college with a bright future ahead of him and look what happened”, Carillo Fernandez's siblings said. Carillo Fernandez, who was a fast-food restaurant manager, left Venezuela and became a U.S. citizen because he did not feel comfortable living in a country where same-sex marriage was not recognized.
Carillo Fernandez’s partner Aracena-Montero was Dominican. The couple had just purchased their first home together in Orlando. They both studied business administration at the Universidad de Turabo in Puerto Rico.
Altagracia Montero, mother of Aracena-Montero commented about her son. The Dominican native said, “I’m so sad, I’m just waiting for my visa so I can bring back the body of my son.”
There were very few people who had the strength to talk during vigils and memorials, but those who did preached a similar message, that “There needs to be no more hate.”
People have amassed around the bouquets left to memorialize the victims and gathered to remember the lives of those who were lost in Orlando. Religious counselor and director Angel Marcial told Telemundo reporter Rogelio Mora-Tagle that, “the church is here to cry with you and suffer with you during this painful time.”
Darek Michael Wajda is currently an editorial intern with NBC Latino. Darek has also worked at CNBC and MSNBC as well as NECN and Telemundo Boston. He is a student at Northeastern University majoring in international affairs and political science. Darek is of Cuban-Polish ancestry and is bilingual and bicultural.