Vigil for Orlando shooting victims in Sarasota

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jun 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 13:35:27-04

SARASOTA, Fla. - A very emotional night for many in the Sarasota community, as a vigil in held for 34-year-old Eddie Sotomayor.

Sotomayor was from Sarasota and worked as a travel agent with a focus on LGBT tourism. He was one of the first victims to be identified in the Orlando shooting.

"Horrified. I was shocked and upset, now I'm just mad," Rob McGovern said he felt when he found out about the death of Sotomayor, his close friend.

"Eddie is imprinted on our hearts. He touched all of our lives with that heart of gold," another close friend, Jonathan Hall, said during the vigil. "And he was known for his free hugs. This is a time when we could all use one. Let his heart gold on live on."

One of Sotomayor's friends said he believes he died protecting his boyfriend.

"I really believe that Eddie saved his partner's life," Al Ferguson said. "Because Eddie and his partner were staying with the manager of the Pulse for the night, and they had come over for Latin Night, and his partner was outside loading the trunk of the car when the shooting began. He texted Eddie, and Eddie told him about the shots and that he was hiding but that he was safe, but he told him not to come back into the club."

The vigil was held by several LGBT organizations including Harvey Milk and Equality Florida.

It served as a reminder to never forget the lives lost and that hate will not win.

"We're not taking steps backwards, we're just going to keep pushing forward and try to raise awareness, and change minds that might not accept that we just want to love who we want to love, and be who we are," Shannon Fortner of Harvey Milk Festival said.

"Their lives are gone. And they blessed us with their friendship and their love, but it was cut short," McGovern said.

Equality Florida has started a GoFundMe page to help the families of the Orlando shooting victims. If you'd like to donate, click here