On June 12, a gunman attacked a Orlando gay nightclub named Pulse during Latin night. This horrible tragedy took the lives of 49 people, and 53 people were injured. Officials have started to release the identities of the victims of the shooting, and their names are slowly coming out to the public. One of the Orlando shooting victims is Enrique Rios, a 25-year-old social worker from Brooklyn, New York, according to DNA Info.
Rios studied social work at St. Francis College and worked at True Care Home Health Care Agency in Brooklyn. He was described as "a great person with a heart of gold," by his cousin, Christine Jimenez.
Rios was on vacation in Orlando over the weekend to celebrate a friend's birthday, and sadly lost his life in the shooting early Sunday morning. His mother, Gertrude Merced has started a GoFundMe to raise money to bring her son's body back from Florida and planned to go to Orlando on Monday to identify her son's body, according to DNA Info.
"I come as a humble, hurt, devastated mother. My family is torn apart and all I would like is to have my son with me so he can have the funeral he deserves. My son was a good kid. He was just having a great time on his vacation," Merced wrote on the GoFundMe page, which you can visit here. As of Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe page that Merced created for her son has already raised $10,220, exceeding their initial goal of $4,000.
According to DNA Info, Merced's neighbor Marisela Rodriguez said, "When I saw his picture, I thought, 'Oh my God.' It hurt us very much." On Sunday night, New Yorkers held a vigil at the Stonewall Inn, a historic gay rights landmark in Greenwich Village. The vigil was held at 6 p.m. ET and hundreds of New Yorkers attended in solidarity and in mourning of the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Ken Kidd, an organizer with Queer Nation who attended the vigil, told the New York Times, "We come today because we are a community that will never be silenced again." Another attendee of the vigil, Brandon Cordeiro, told the Times, "In the good times we’ve come here, in the bad times we’ve come here. What has always been true in all those times is we’ve stood together."
There are still ways for you to help the victims and families of the shooting. Local counseling and support services are available in Orlando, and you can donate to this GoFundMe, sponsored by Equality Florida.