Hundreds pack Florida park for Orlando shooting victims’ vigil

DAVENPORT, FL (WFLA) – Friday evening, hundreds gathered in the Northeast Regional Park in Davenport to remember Amanda Alvear and Mercedes Flores.

Alvear and Flores were two of the 49 gunned down at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Sandra Pando was friends with both victims and helped organize the candlelight vigil.

“Amanda and Mercedes, they were amazing girls.”  Pando cried, as she spoke to the audience.  “We love you, girls.  And you girls will be forever, forever living in our hearts…”

The vigil was supposed to last from 7-8 p.m. but lasted well past 8:30.  Cesar Flores is Mercedes Flores’ older brother and had to choke back the tears as he addressed the crowd.

“I want to say thank you to everyone for being here today.  It’s an honor to be amongst my sister’s friends, family.  We’re not standing here as two families with Amanda’s family.  We’re one family…. One family,” Flores said.

Aaron Mohamed worked with Alvear.  He’s gay and lives in Lake Wales, and always felt like Mercedes was someone he could openly talk to.

“She was always super supportive.  I would go to her and tell her about problems,”  Mohamed said in a quiet voice.  “It’s hard to be gay in Polk County, and she was one of the few people at work I could go to.”


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