Hundreds gather at vigil for Polk Co. Pulse victims

- Amanda Alvear and Mercedes Flores were best friends who did everything together, so it was only fitting that after their deaths, their families memorialized them at a joint vigil in Davenport.

Hundreds attended the vigil for Alvear, 25, and Flores, 26, at Northeast Regional Park Friday night.

Family and close friends read speeches, sang songs and prayed together during the ceremony, which was followed by a balloon release to commemorate the two young lives lost.

“They were very good girls, beautiful hearts. Just felt like I had to pay my respects and say one last goodbye,” said Adarline Torres, a high school classmate.

Alvear and Flores attended Haines City High School and lived in Davenport. Their families say they were barely apart, spending time in and out of each other’s homes and in the same group of friends. As grim as it sounds, family and friends said they were comforted that the two women also spent the last moments of their lives together.

Alvear and Flores were shot and killed inside Pulse, just moments after a Snapchat from Alvear captured the gunfire ringing out.

Alvear’s mother demanded that the girls’ deaths not be in vain.

“We have to change the world. We have to heal the world. It's love. Not hate,” she said.

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