Our hearts are broken. Yesterday, civil rights leaders participated in a press conference outside of HRC headquarters to respond to the horrific massacre at Pulse nightclub in Florida. HRC President Chad Griffin was joined by Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality; Janet Murguía; President and CEO, National Council of La Raza; Cornell Brooks, President, NAACP; Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition; Judith Lichtman, of the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Brenda Abdelall of Muslim Advocates; Jorge Amaro, of the National LGBTQ Task Force; and María Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino. Watch their remarks here.
For those looking to assist, blood donations are needed. To find a blood donation center or Big Red Bus near you visit http://www.oneblood.org or call 1.888.9Donate. You may also support the victims and their families by donating to Equality Florida’s Go Fund Me page.
This is what we currently know about 26 of the 49 victims. 53 others were injured:
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34.
Edward handled brand management for Al and Chuck Travel, an agency that plans vacations for the LGBTQ community. On hearing news of Edward’s death, his boss Al Ferguson spent time with Edward’s family at the hospital.
Photo credit: Edward Sotomayor Jr.'s Facebook page.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23.
Originally from Massachusetts, Stanley worked as a pharmacy technician in Clermont, Florida. Friends have been taking to social media to comment on his “bubbly,” “down to earth” personality.
Photo credit: Stanley Almodovar III's Facebook page.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20.
Omar was the youngest person killed that night at Pulse. His family and friends took to social media to express sadness, and share stories of their time with him.
Photo credit: Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo's Facebook page.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22.
According to reports, Juan was at the club with his boyfriend, Drew Leinonen, who still remains unaccounted. Drew’s mother has been on several news shows pleading for her son’s safe return.
Photo credit: Juan Ramon Guerrero's Instagram.
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Eric worked at a Party City and Sunglasses Hut. He had been married about a year and on Sunday morning his husband frantically called friends and family when he couldn’t connect with Eric.
Photo credit: Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera's Facebook page.
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22.
Peter worked at UPS and spent his high school years in New Jersey. On Facebook, his mother thanked everyone for reaching out and expressed “deep and immense pain” at the loss of her son.
Photo credit: Facebook.
Luis S. Vielma, 22.
Luis was a student at Seminole State College and worked as an operator for Universal Studios’ Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Early this morning J.K. Rowling shared her heartbreak.
Photo credit: Luis Vielma's Facebook page.
K.J. Morris, 37.
K.J. was a bouncer at Pulse, known for her excellent dancing and amazing smile that could light up a room. She previously lived in Massachusetts.
Photo credit: K.J. Morris' Facebook page.
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30.
Eddie was an accountant and loved to make other people smile. He was able to text his mother before he died Sunday night -- saying that he loved her and to call the police.
Photo credit: Courtney Robinson's Facebook page.
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29.
(Awaiting more information.)
Photo credit: Jacksonville Jaycees' Facebook page.
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32.
Deonka, known as Dee Dee, was working at Pulse when the massacre occurred, according to a family member. “Senseless,” her aunt wrote on Facebook. “R.I.P. Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.”
Photo credit: Patricia Drayton Banks' Facebook page.
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21.
(Awaiting more information.)
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25.
Anthony was a graduate of the University of the Sacred Heart in Santurce, Puerto Rico, where he studied education. He was a well-known drag artist in Orlando, performing as Alanis Laurell.
Photo credit: Lucas Daniel Acosta D'oleo's Facebook page.
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35.
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37.
Jean and Luis were loving partners; both men were killed in the shooting. The families of both men took to Facebook to share their love and sadness.
Photo credit: Jean Carlos Mendez Perez's and Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon's Facebook pages.
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50.
Frankie was a visual merchandiser at Forever 21 and studied at InterAmerican University in Puerto Rico. His family took to Facebook to share their love of Franky, saying “What happened in Orlando affects all of us because it is an act of hate against the freedom to be who you are.”
Photo credit: Vane La Croix's Facebook page.
Amanda Alvear, 25.
Amanda was a beloved sister and godmother. Before the shooting, Amanda posted videos to Snapchat showing herself and friend, Mercedez Marisol Flores, dancing and enjoying themselves at Pulse. Mercedez was another victim of the shooting.
Photo credit: Amanda Alvear's Facebook page.
Martin Benitez Torres, 33.
Martin is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he studied at the Ana G. Méndez University system. He was in Orlando visiting his family.
Photo credit: Martin Benitez Torres' Facebook page.
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26.
Mercedez was at Pulse with her friend, Amanda Alvear, when the shooting occurred. She was a student at Valencia Community College and worked at the local Target.
Photo credit: Mercedez Flores' Facebook page.
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.
Xavier was the father of a young son, and worked as an entertainer at Splash Bar in Panama City Beach, Florida. He was a mentor to many of his coworkers, who described him as “quick with a smile.”
Photo credit: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado's Facebook page.
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25.
Gilberto studied health care management at Ana G. Méndez University, and worked as a sales associate at Speedway. He was originally from Manatí, Puerto Rico.
Photo credit: Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez's Facebook page.
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31.
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26.
Friends Simon and Oscar were at Pulse together. “I’m so heartbroken that you guys and so many other friends lost their lives in such a senseless act. I pray for strength and courage for us all,” a friend wrote on Facebook.
Photo credit: Simon Adrian Carillo Fernandez's and Oscar A. Aracena-Montero's Facebook pages.
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old.
Enrique, from Brooklyn, New York, was vacationing in Orlando at the time of the attack. He had been working as a coordinator at True Care Home Health Care, and studied social work at St. Francis College. His mother said her family has been “torn apart.”
Photo credit: Enrique L. Rios, Jr.'s Facebook page.
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old.
A resident of Apopka, Florida, Miguel worked for FajitaMex Mexican Catering. On Facebook, his brother wrote: “I can’t face the fact that my blood brother is gone. May your soul rest in peace Brother. I love you so much.”
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old.
Javier, of Orlando, worked as a supervisor at Gucci. He was originally from Guayama, Puerto Rico, and studied at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Said one Facebook friend: “Your energy and love of life and of all things beautiful was infectious...You were one of a kind.”
A LOOK AT THE NATION’S FRONT PAGES: The Washington Post… The New York Times… Orlando Sentinel… Tampa Bay Times… TBT*… The Miami Herald… Florida Today… The Florida Times-Union… Northwest Florida Daily News...