Two Orlando shooting victims had North Texas ties
Two of the people killed in the Orlando nightclub mass shooting have ties to North Texas.
Dallas resident Ken Nading says he was heartbroken to learn one of his friends was killed in Sunday morning’s massacre.
Nading met Eddie Sotmayor, a victim in the Orlando shooting, while on a cruise earlier this year with some of his friends.
“His personality, his smile, was always just a wonderful presence when he was in the room,” said Nading.
Sotomayor, who worked for a travel company, was Nading’s tour guide. The 34-year-old’s personality and sense of style made him stand out.
“He always wore a top hat. That was his distinctive feature,” said Nading. “And everyone always noticed that so you could see him in a crowd.”
Sotomayor was on a break from work and drove to Orlando to celebrate gay pride with his friends. Nading found out his friend was killed at Pulse Nightclub, when he saw the first list of names that was released by the city of Orlando.
"He was the very first person announced as confirmed dead,” said Nading.
Also among the dead was Luis Vielma. The 22-year-old lived in Orlando but had family in North Texas.
Author J.K. Rowling tweeted a photo of Vielma, who worked on a Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. Vielma's coworkers even held a vigil with their wands fully raised to honor him.
MORE: Harry Potter Universal staff honor coworker killed at Pulse
“If you're a spiritual person, heaven is crowded with angels after this,” said Nading.
Vielma was at the nightclub with his friend, Laura Vargas. The duo snapped a selfie hours before the shooting. Vargas was shot twice in the back but was rushed to surgery and is recovering.
Nading didn't know Vargas or Vielma. But to him, it makes no difference.
“The thing about the gay community is when you're faced with such adversity, particularly sometimes from family members, your friends become your family,” said Nading. “Eddie was my family. All the victims are my family. We're each other's family.
Nading is urging the LGBT community in North Texas to go out and support gay businesses to show terrorists they refuse to live their lives in fear.
Dallas police continue to show an increased presence in Oak Lawn in wake of the shooting.