One of the 49 people killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre on Sunday morning was from Brooklyn. Enrique L. Rios, Jr., identified by the Orlando Police Department as among those gunned down at Pulse nightclub, was 25.
He is remembered by Bishop William Whitaker, of Greater Free Gift Baptist Church in Brooklyn, as "one of the most pleasant, comical young" men and "very, very intelligent." Whitaker said that Rios had been attending the church for about 10 years with his family.
Whitaker said on Monday that Rios' mother had called him Sunday night, crying after hearing the news. "She called to let me know. Early on we didn't know he was one of the victims."
Rios' mother, Getrude Merced, who lives in Bed-Stuy, set up a Gofundme page to assist in bringing her son's body back to New York. According to the page, Rios was on vacation in Orlando when the shooting happened.
"I come as a humble, hurt, devastated mother," Merced wrote on the fundraising page. Merced is asking for donations in order to help bring Rios' body back to New York for a funeral service.
"My son was a good kid. ... Please help me bring my son home for a proper funeral," Merced wrote.
As of Monday afternoon, the fundraising page had amassed more than $16,000 in donations.
Latosha Gaddie, Rios' former co-worker of at OTG at LaGuardia Airport, remembered him as "a caring person, a good friend to talk to if you ever felt down." He also loved dancing to bachata music, Gaddie recalled.
As the investigation into the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history continues, authorities said they’re looking into whether anyone helped gunman Omar Mateen prior to the attack. Authorities also said they do not believe anyone connected to the shooting posed a current danger to the public.
Mateen opened fire inside the club early Sunday morning. He was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a handgun, and he was carrying an unidentified “device,” authorities in Florida said.
The attack turned into a hostage situation before SWAT teams stormed the club and fatally shot Mateen in a gunfight.