Bay area victims remembered by loved ones

- 49 people lost their lives in the Orlando nightclub shooting. Through their heartbreak, families and friends are finding comfort in sharing happier memories about them.  That includes at least 5 people from the Tampa Bay area.

If you read through the dozens of stories coming out, you'll learn that list of 49 includes students, parents, a singer, a theme park worker, and people on vacation.  All just trying to live their lives in peace.

The family of Christopher Sanfeliz, who live in Tampa, learned Monday morning that he had been killed. He was 24 years old and a graduate of Gaither High School.

PHOTOS: All 49 victims of Orlando massacre identified

Those close to him say he "was the life of party," and a fun-loving person who loved to dance. Though his family said they're too distraught to talk, his brother posted on Facebook, in part:  "Everyone knows the bond that I had with my brother, we would finish each other's sentences, knew each other's thoughts, and could sense when the other was upset. He was so strong, and was my rock through everything we ever went through. He was the light of my family and I know that he will continue to bless us and his light will be radiating down from a better place."

Best friends, 25-year-old Amanda Alvear and 26-year-old Mercedez Flores of Davenport, were together at Pulse nightclub that night. Mercedez, a lover of music, was in her element. Amanda was enjoying herself after recently dropping 180 pounds. "She was one of the nicest, most caring people you'd ever meet," her brother Brian Alvear said.

Snapchat videos taken by Amanda initially show a packed dance floor. But, a third captured the horror and disbelief, her last moments, as the video captures the sounds of gunfire.

Despite an unimaginable loss, Amanda's brother is spreading a message of peace.

"She would want us to keep loving and not hate and not try and make this about something more than it was. Just one crazy man," Alvear said.

34-year-old Edward Sotomayor, Jr. of Sarasota was also sending videos from Pulse. That is how friends are remembering him, a man with a playful spirit and sporting his signature top hat.

"I smiled when I saw it, it was funny and it makes me happy," said friend Al Ferguson.

"He always had a kind word and a great smile," said friend Berry Ayers.

Sotomayor was the International Brand Manager for Al and Chuck Travel, an LGBT travel agency. Those who knew him best say his kindness made him a friend to all.

"People liked Eddie, they enjoyed being around him, they gravitate to him," said Ferguson.

25-year-old Juan Chavez-Martinez of Davenport was inside the crowded nightclub. It was a carefree night for a man a family friend calls a "hard worker." They tell us he came from Mexico in search of a better life.
On his Facebook page, you'll find this quote as his cover photo. Translated, it says, "Sometimes we do not need money, but love and understanding."

We also want to mention another local woman to keep in your thoughts and prayers. Marissa Delgado of Polk County was among the 53 people injured in the shooting. She is fighting for her life after being shot 12 times.

All 49 people who were killed in the Pulse nightclub have been identified. They are: 

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Bay area victims remembered by loved ones
  • Hearings begin between Hillsborough Co. teachers and district
  • More than 10 mobile homes in Ruskin damaged by strong winds
  • Port Tampa Bay welcomes large vessel
  • Welcome to Mulberry, Florida's boomtown
  • Hit-and-run suspect rejects plea deal
  • Gov. Scott reviewing prostitution-related arrest of commissioner
  • FOUND: Pasco County boy, 12, last seen in Wesley Chapel
  • Tampa police search for driver who killed homeless man
  • Seminole company sued by media conglomerates for piracy