Edward Manuel Sotomayor Jr., 34, of Sarasota is among the victims who died Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 and injuring 53, according to the city of Orlando and social and news media reports.
Sotomayor is identified on his Facebook page, which is now a remembrance page, and in his LinkedIn profile as national brand coordinator for ALandCHUCK Travel in Sarasota, where he had worked since August 2014.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he graduated in 2012 from the University of South Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and took communications courses at State College of Florida in Manatee.
He previously worked at Sted Research Inc., What’s Happening Magazine, Tower Group and Joyce Murchison Enterprises Inc., his profile said.
He also volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event.
Larry Sotomayor of Sarasota posted on Facebook on Sunday that he is the victim’s uncle and asked for prayers for his nephew. Edward Sotomayor is one of eight victims the city of Orlando had identified as of 10 p.m. and whose next of kin have been contacted.
The names of the seven other victims identified so far by Orlando authorities are Stanley Almodovar III, 23; Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20; Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22; Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36; Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22; Luis S. Vielma, 22; and Kimberly Morris, 37. Their hometowns have not yet been disclosed.
Edward Sotomayor was a caring, energetic man known for wearing a silly top hat on cruises, according to David Sotomayor, who said the two discovered they were cousins after meeting at Orlando’s annual Gay Days festival around a decade ago.
David Sotomayor, who lives in Chicago, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Edward’s company held gay cruises, and he often traveled to promote the company’s events.
“He was just always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor said.
The two texted regularly and kept in touch, last seeing each other earlier this year at a filming of the television reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” David Sotomayor said.
David Sotomayor is a drag queen who appeared on a season of the show using the name “Jade.” He said Edward Sotomayor supported him and often sent him Facebook messages. They last exchanged messages late last week.
“You never think that’s going to be the last time you speak to him,” David Sotomayor said. “It’s just heartbreaking to know it just can happen anytime.”