The family of Enrique Rios has been torn apart after finding out that the beloved son, who traveled to Florida to celebrate a friend’s birthday, was among the scores of innocent men and women killed at the Pulse nightclub.
Rios, a 25-year-old social worker from Williamsburg, was in Orlando for the weekend and was expected to return to New York City on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.
However, Rios was one of the 49 killed inside the Orlando nightclub when Omar Mateen, 29, entered and began shooting at partygoers armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and handgun. Around 53 people were injured and are currently being treated in local hospitals.
Rios’ uncle remembers him as a “good kid” who was attending nursing school while working as a social work for the elderly, the Daily News reported.
His family was first made aware of the shooting when a friend, who managed to escape the nightclub, called and said they had gotten split up, according to the Daily News. An aunt in Florida who went to the Orlando Regional Medical Center later learned that Rios was among those killed.
Although Rios’ mother, Gertrude Merced, could not at first come to terms with the fact that her son was killed, she spoke about forgiveness and families uniting to give each other strength.
“But these hurt families need to gather with each other, encourage each other, and always have hope,” Merced told the Daily News. “No matter what, there is always time to forgive.”
“My family is torn apart and all I would like is to have my son with me so he can have the funeral he deserves,” she wrote on the campaign page.
In just 12 hours, the campaign garnered over $10,500 in donations and the campaign page filled with comments of support.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local officials will gather at the Stonewall Inn at 7:30 p.m. on Monday to hold a vigil in memory of the victims.