They were a cross-section of Americans living it up at an Orlando club — professionals who plied their trades in the city's gleaming towers, 20-somethings who worked in nearby amusement parks. They were tourists passing through town and regulars greeting old friends.
Then, suddenly, gunfire ripped through the gay nightclub and turned them into something else — victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Here are their stories.
REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS
Alejandro Barrios Martinez left Cuba for a new life in Florida just last year only to be slain in an Orlando nightclub.
The 21-year-old was a regular at Pulse and despite his limited English he didn't lack for friends, a grieving pal told The Orlando Sentinel.
"He's the type of person [who would] see you in a parking lot and he'd have a whole conversation with you,"Sarai Torres told the paper.
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez was getting used to being king of his castle. The hard-working 27-year-old check cashing store manager bought his first house in KIssimmee, Florida, three months ago, according to property records.
"He was just a caring, loving guy — just like a big teddy bear," one of his best friends, Ivonne Irizarry, told the The Orlando Sentinel.
Rodriguez, 27, had been working since he was 15. He started at a McDonald's and quickly became a manager.
"He wanted to be the best at what he did, and he would work very hard to achieve that," Irizarry said. "So if he had to put in the long hours to get it right, he'd do it. If he had to stay to work a double [shift], he did it. That's why whatever job he went to, he became a manager."
Originally from Puerto Rico, Rodriguez was devoted to his family and friends.
"He cared more about others than about himself," his sister, Valeria Monroig, told the paper.
Paul Terrell Henry was a loving father of two and a devoted boyfriend. The 41-year-old worked as a sales representative at Orange Lake Resorts, but was a wonderful musician on the side, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Henry frequently played the piano and organ and could sing. He was a strong proponent of dancing and having fun, spending a lot of time at the Bear Den at Parliament House where he excelled at pool. He is remembered by his loving boyfriend Francisco Hernandez and his two daughters, the oldest of which just recently graduated high school.
"I miss him. I love him,'' Hernandez said in an email to the Sentinel. "I took care of him, and he took care of me. Such a loving spirit. I'll always have him in my heart."
Juan Chavez-Martinez was known by his co-workers and friends for his extreme friendliness. He worked for APDC Services, which is a staffing company of Reunion Resorts in Kissimmee. As a housekeeping supervisor Martinez became known for his kind and loving personality along with his dedication to his work.
Co-worker Jose Crisantos had gotten to know Martinez well during his time working at the Reunion Resort.
"I was a housekeeper and he was a supervisor,” Crisantos told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was very well known among us as very kind and loving. … There was nobody else like him. It is a devastating loss.”
Martinez had several brothers and sisters, two of whom also live in Central Florida. His hometown is listed as Huichapan, Mexico, on his Facebook, and a Go Fund Me page under “Funeral Juan Chavez Victima pulse,” has been set up to help raise money to return Martinez’s body to Mexico.
Drayton was in the process of turning her life around when she was shot and killed at Pulse.
"She was doing better," Ashleigh Alleyne, Drayton's ex-girlfriend, told The Orlando Sentinel. "She was still on probation, but she wasn't getting in trouble, she was actually working with her cousin, I believe."
She had been contending with what the paper described as "several legal infractions involving drugs."
"I know that she didn't leave this earth doing wrong," Alleyne told the paper. "She was actually putting in effort, because we both hit rock bottom at the same time. She pushed me to get through her issues and I always tried to do the same for her."
Drayton was working at the nightclub when she was killed. She was raised in Eastover, South Carolina, according to The State newspaper.
Honorato was a married father of three small children and a soccer fan who had gone to Pulse with a group of friends.
When the shooting started, his friends managed to escape, The Orlando Sentinel reported. He was not as lucky.
Honorato lived in Apopka, Florida, and worked for FajitaMex Mexican Catering in Orlando. A Mexican citizen, he rooted for the Mexico City-based Club América.
His brother Jose posted a farewell on his slain sibling's Facebook page.
“R.I.P Brother Miguel Honorato,” he wrote. “I can’t face the fact that my Blood Brother is gone."
Just hours before he was gunned down at Pulse, Tomlinson performed with his band at another Orlando nightclub.
"I've never met anyone like him," Carey Sobel, an Orlando resident who hired Tomlinson's band to play his upcoming wedding, told the paper. "He was really special."
Tomlinson, who lived in Orlando, was a 2003 graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He earned a degree in communications.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in his hometown of Concord, North Carolina in his memory, the Charlotte Observer reported.
“Our hearts are broken to learn that Shane's was one of the young lives lost in this senseless act of violence," Concord Mayor Scott Padgett said in a statement. "We lift up his parents as well as the entire Tomlinson family in prayer and support. There are many people in our community who loved and remember Shane from his youth and we join his family in grief."
Wright was quiet but knew how to treat guests at Walt Disney World, where he worked as a seasonal employee, a former co-worker said.
"He was one of the kindest people you could meet," co-worker Kenneth Berrios told the Orlando Sentinel. "We had students from the London program . and Jerry was always willing to give rides to them and show them around town."
Wright "was a great guy to work with," former co-worker Scott Dickison said. "He was quiet but really wonderful with all the guests. He always had a smile on his face."
Dickison said Wright had worked most recently in merchandising on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, but also had worked in Tomorrowland and at Universal Studios in Orlando.
Sanfeliz was always friendly and outgoing, "the most positive guy I've ever known," friend Josh Palange said.
They became friends during middle school, and in high school, took honors classes and band together - Sanfeliz on trumpet. Though they didn't see each other much after graduating in 2010, "we stayed friends on Facebook," Palange told the Tampa Bay Times.
Sanfeliz's family moved there from Cuba in the 1960s, family friend Mike Wallace said. Sanfeliz took business classes at a community college and was hired as a bank teller and worked his way up to become a personal banker, Wallace said.
"He (was) a wonderful person and this is such a tragedy," said Wallace. "He was cut down in his prime."
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.
Paniagua moved to Florida from Mexico in the early 2000s in search of a better life.
He went back to his home state of Veracruz for several years but returned to Tampa less than a year ago, relatives and friends said.
"We came because here in the United States there are many opportunities here and because we were fleeing because in our country there was a lot of crime, violence and death ... and we expect it should be more peaceful here," his cousin Jose Paniagua told Newsday.
The construction worker was looking forward to meeting friends at Pulse for another night of dancing - something he loved to do, friend Lorena Barragan told the Orlando Sentinel.
"He was the best," said Barragan, who met Rayon Paniagua at church. "He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better."
Candelario-Padro moved to Orlando from Chicago in January to be closer to family. The nurse and National Guard member soon found a new job and a new love.
"He was a humble boy, a good student. He liked to work and wasn't too much into partying," his aunt Leticia Padro told Univision.
Candelario-Padro's boyfriend, who was shot several times, told her that after hearing several shots he turned to Candelario-Padro and asked if he was OK.
"He told him he was OK, but in that instant he fell to the floor," Padro said.
Candelario-Padro loved music and had played the clarinet in a band in his hometown of Guanica, Puerto Rico, according to uncle Efrain Padro.
"We're waiting for his body to be brought home," he said, "We will welcome him with music."
Fernandez recently had found a job as a leasing agent for an Orlando apartment complex, said his friend, Jennifer Rodriguez.
"He had finally found something he liked. He was taking care of his mom," she said of Fernandez, who was also her hair stylist and one of her best friends.
"He was like a brother," she said. "He was just really very spirited and always happy, you know?"
Fernandez recently had been dating an older man, a dancer known by the stage name Eman Valentino, who also died in the shooting.
Torres had recently moved to Orlando and was working to become a pharmacy technician.
Benitez was a student at a Tampa satellite campus of the Ana G. Mendez University System, based in Puerto Rico, where he was born. In a university statement, one of his professors called him a "diligent and extremely hardworking student."
Benitez was "thankful for the opportunity to advance his career and hopeful to make his dreams a reality," said Carla Zayas, a Spanish professor.
He posted several photos and videos on his Facebook page in the days before the shooting, including one in the kitchen cooking with family members.
The cover photo on his Facebook profile includes a quote in Spanish: "If God takes away my eyesight, it's because I've been allowed to see everything that's beautiful in the world."
Crosby had a drive for success, which was reflected in his inspirational Facebook posts — "2016 will be the best year ever."
"Whatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal," Chavis Crosby told the Orlando Sentinel.
Tevin Crosby was director of operations for a Michigan marketing firm who'd recently visited family in Statesville, North Carolina, to watch several nieces and nephews graduate.
Then, he traveled to Orlando after passing along some brotherly advice about business and setting goals. He loved to travel for work and fun, Chavis Crosby said.
"He was definitely a good person and a good brother to me," he said.
When the shooting started at Pulse, Jonathan Camuy tried to protect young mom Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan.
But the bullets got them both, The Orlando Sentinel reported.
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.
“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.’"
Solivan was 24 and lived in Kissimmee, Florida. She was married to race car driver Juan Borges and her youngest was a 3-month-old son named Sergio. She worked at a Wendy’s in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida.
Camuy was also 24 and listed as Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega on the City of Orlando's website. He was a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and worked for a Spanish language show called La Voz Kids, which airs on Telemundo and is produced in Orlando.
"The NAHJ familia is heartbroken and offers our condolences to Jonathan’s family in Florida and Puerto Rico," the NAHJ said in a statement. "We also keep his work family at Telemundo in our thoughts and prayers."
Brown, 29, was a captain in the Army Reserves who had earned numerous awards and medals. He had been a member of the reserves since 2004 and was deployed once to Kuwait, according to the Pentagon.
During his time in the service, Brown attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, according to a statement from the school.
Brown "is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media," the statement said.
He graduated with a criminal justice degree in 2008.
Velazquez traveled the world performing Puerto Rican folk dances known as Jibaro.
Velazquez, 50, had been at the gay nightclub with two pals, his friend Sara Lopez told Orlando Weekly.
They didn't realize they were under fire "until they started seeing people fall down," Lopez told the magazine.
Velezquez's friends tried to get him out of the way, but the gunman pushed him and the others "up against the wall" and resumed shooting, Lopez said.
The slain dancer was born and raised in Puerto Rico and worked as a merchandiser for the Forever 21 clothing chain.
His sister, Bernice De Jesús, told The Orlando Sentinel her brother was not a big club-hopper.
"He was the kind of person who likes to have a good time in the house with family and friends," she said. "But that night he wanted to go because it was a Latin night. That is what one of his friends told me."
His friends survived the massacre, she said.
"It's going to take a lot for them to recover," she said. "They were three amigos."
Ortiz-Jimenez was the last of the Pulse victims publicly identified by Orlando city officials.
A 25-year-old Dominican who lived in Puerto Rico and went by Drake Ortiz, he was an aspiring actor and lawyer, according to a Facebook memorial page.
Ortiz-Jimenez was also a Selena Gomez fan. There were pictures of the singer on the Facebook page — along with some selfies.
The last photo Ortiz-Jimenez posted was off himself at the gym at 9 p.m. on Saturday — just hours before he was killed.
Akyra Monet Murray was an 18-year-old Philadelphia phenom — a high school basketball star who scored more than 1,000 points during her career and was bound this fall for Mercyhurst University on a full athletic scholarship.
Now her former classmates at West Catholic Prep are in mourning.
"Akyra was a superstar who was a leader among her classmates and teammates," the school said in a statement. "She was an honors student whom graduated third in her class, and a 1,000 point scorer on the Lady Burrs basketball team."
Murry was in Orlando on a family vacation to celebrate her graduation and visit her brother when she found herseft at Pulse with her friend Patience Carter, a New York University student who was shot in the leg, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
"Losing Akyra is heartbreaking, we are currently in the process of healing as a community," her former coach, Beulah Osueke, said in the statement. "This is a very difficult day, not just for the Murray family but for the West Catholic family and all that were touched by Akyra's warmth and magnetic embrace. There is no possible way to prepare for a moment like this."