Man With North Texas Ties Among Victims of Orlando Shooting - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Orlando Nightclub Massacre

Orlando Nightclub Massacre

Coverage of the Orlando nightclub massacre, June 12, 2016

Man With North Texas Ties Among Victims of Orlando Shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Friends and family gathered to mourn 22-year-old Luis Vielma, a man with North Texas ties who died in the massacre at an Orlando nightclub. (Published Tuesday, June 14, 2016)

    Luis Vielma, a man with North Texas ties living in the Orlando area, was among those killed in the Orlando massacre early Sunday.

    His death left a gaping hole in his family, who gathered Monday in a small living room, looking at photos.

    "He's smiling. He's happy," Vielma's godmother, Jo Ann Sofinowski, commented. "Celebrating life, because that's what Luis did."

    The 22-year old lived in Sanford, Fla., and was going to college with plans to become a nurse.

    Man With North Texas Ties Among Orlando Victims

    [DFW] Man With North Texas Ties Among Orlando Victims
    One of the victims of the Orlando shootings had a sibling in North Texas and a godmother, originally from Dallas, who shared her memories of 22-year-old Luis Vielma.
    (Published Monday, June 13, 2016)

    Vielma also worked at Universal Studios at the Harry Potter exhibit.

    "He loved Harry Potter," Sofinowski said. "And the fact that he was working in the Harry Potter exhibit made him jump up and get to work every day."

    Vielma was the oldest of three siblings in Sanford, with another sibling in North Texas. It was a connection shared with his godmother.

    "I was born in Dallas," Sofinowski said, smiling. *3e always talked about the Dallas Cowboys. He loved the Dallas Cowboys, and so we had a little connection."

    The family said Vielma went to Pulse nightclub to support a friend who wanted to go dancing.

    "I can understand why he was at that club," Sofinowski said. "It was Latin music and that boy loved to dance!"

    Sofinowski said Vielma's friend was wounded, and as of Monday afternoon, did not know Vielma was killed.

    "Things like this happen around the world," said friend, Sarah Martinez. "This is so close to home and it's just so hard, especially when it's somebody you know."

    More than one-hundred people attended a vigil for Vielma Monday night in a Sanford park friends called his "second home". They recited the rosary in Spanish and shared memories. Vielma's grieving father hugged every person who got up to speak and thanked the crowd "todos gracias" for coming.

    "I'm sure he'd love each and every one of you a lot more by seeing what you're doing," Vielma's younger brother said, choking back tears. "He was taken too soon from us." 

    "Love your loved ones," a friend told the crowd. "Don't only love them on special occasions or when trying stuff happens like this. Every day look at them and tell them you love them. Appreciate them."

    The vigil ended with a balloon release and chants of "Luis, Luis, Luis!"

    "He's at peace. He's not hurting, but his family certainly is," Sofinowski said, through tears. "Heaven got an angel out of Luis."

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