Funerals held for Orlando massacre victims | News | DW | 18.06.2016
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Funerals held for Orlando massacre victims

At least five of the 49 people killed in last weekend's massacre have been buried with more funerals expected over the weekend. Families are being given funds to fly to Florida and to help pay for burials.

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25, was among those buried Friday. "He was a very talented dancer who was loved and will be missed by all," his obituary read. Disla's casket was carried in a white hearse in a procession of a dozen cars to a downtown Orlando cemetery.

Funerals for three other victims in their 20s - Christopher Sanfeliz, Yilmary Rodriquez Solivan and Luis Vielma - were also held, along with the burial for 50-year-old Jimmy DeJesus Velasquez, according to local TV station WKOW.

The city of Orlando remains in grief following last weekend's mass killings - the worst in US history - when lone gunman Omar Mateen ran amok in a gay nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others.

Elsewhere in the city, a funeral home was filled with more than 100 relatives and friends of Peter Ommy Gonzalez-Cruz and Gilberto Ramon Silva, best friends who died together at Pulse nightclub. A joint service was due to be held for two other victims, Luis Daniel Wilson and his boyfriend, Jean Carlos Mendez, whose families requested a joint memorial, according to "People" magazine.

The funeral of club bouncer Kimberly "KJ" Morris took place on Thursday as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the city and met with survivors and victims' families.

Orlando funeral home

Other victims are due to be buried over the weekend

'Let us grieve in private'

Even more funerals are due to take place on Saturday, with some families asking that services be kept private.

Police said gunman Mateen pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" group in his final hours alive inside the nightclub. His father said Mateen was homophobic. But witnesses said he had frequented the gay club himself in the past, as well as using gay dating apps, raising questions over the motive for the attack.

An online funding drive has raised more than $5 million for the families of the victims and many funeral homes have offered to hold services for free.

The local mayor said 94 families have received aid, including tickets for grieving relatives to fly to Orlando, as well as counseling, medical care and funerals. The fund is hoping to help relatives from abroad get visas to claim bodies of their loved ones.

The massacre has reignited a bitter political feud over immigration, counterterrorism and gun control, with many lawmakers unwilling to adopt tough new firearms legislation.

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mm/sms (AFP, AP)

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