Orlando’s Latino Community Remembers, Rebuilds One Year After Pulse Shooting

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ORLANDO, Fla. — On the days leading up to June 12, dozens of Latino families face the one-year mark of one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.

The Pulse shooting took place during the club’s Latin night. Forty nine people died, dozens were wounded. Most were Latinos.

One of them was Amanda Alvear. She was 25.

Her mother, Mayra Alvear spoke to NBC Latino en route to getting her hair done, “My daughter didn’t like seeing me with gray hairs or sad.”

Amanda Alvear, who was of Puerto Rican descent, was a happy nursing student who also worked as a pharmacy technician. Alvear described her daughter as fierce and fearless. She was the youngest of three and despite being the only girl, she did everything her brothers did. Alvear fondly recalled a time period where they lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands and she’d watch her daughter jump off of 20-foot bridges into the ocean with her brothers.

“She loved competition. We were identical in that. She always beat me,” she told NBC Latino, smiling at the memory.

Mayra Alvear, at center, with her late daughter, Amanda, at left.

Alvear had already lost her 12-year-old son, Nelson Alexander, to cancer sixteen years ago. She never imagined that she would experience such pain and loss ever again, until the night of the Pulse shooting.

“You feel numb. You feel but you don’t feel. You start reacting little by little. Then, there’s this pain. Your heart breaks into pieces,” she said.

Alvear describes the last year as a roller-coaster; her husband underwent several procedures for heart disease. But like many in the community, Alvear has overcome shock after shock and channeled her energy into outreach.


Channeling grief into action

Alvear decided to join a group in the nearby city of Kissimmee, about 25 miles south of Orlando, where she met five other mothers who had lost their children at Pulse. “Their pain is my pain,” Mayra said, of the therapy sessions they hold.

Alvear joined a task force on Pulse and works on educating those around her about the area’s LGBTQ+ community.

A family shows solidarity at Pulse Gathering.