Remembering the Orlando 49: Franky Jimmy DeJesús Velázquez

Remembering the Orlando 49: Franky Jimmy DeJesús Velázquez

Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Franky Jimmy DeJesús Velázquez.

His first name was listed as Franky, but the people who loved him and searched for him on June 12 knew him as Jimmy.

Jimmy DeJesús Velázquez, 50, lived in Orlando but was originally from Puerto Rico. He attended Josefina Barceló High School in Guaynabo and then the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. During his time on the island, he had an illustrious dancing career traveling the world with Gíbaro de Puerto Rico, a troupe dedicated to the folk music made popular by the island's peasant farmers, known as jíbaros. In pictures the troupe posted online, DeJesús Velázquez is all smiles with his friends, dressed in straw hats and colorful scarves. He moved to Florida almost a decade ago and was currently working as a visual merchandiser at Forever 21.

To Sara López, he was like a brother. As she looked for him the afternoon of June 12, she told Orlando Weekly that DeJesús Velázquez was with his best friends that night for a good time at Pulse. When they first heard the shots, the three friends held onto each other as they tried to hide, but DeJesús Velázquez was lost in the panic. A month later, López says she wants to remember her friend as he actually was: a stubborn person who would not show up on time or at all sometimes, a perfectionist and an uncle who made the time each week to have a five-minute phone call with his 20 nephews and nieces.

“Sometimes you didn’t want to see him for three days,” she remembers. “He’s leaving a huge void. I’m not going to have ever again a friend like him, with his good things and his bad things.”

On Facebook, DeJesús Velázquez's sister Shiela DeJesús writes in Spanish that he was a "very special brother" and that her family is devastated.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that my brother is now living with the Lord," she says. "I have no consolation, and I don't know how I will live with this pain, Jimmy. I hope to bring him to Puerto Rico because I know many of you want to say your final goodbyes. My brother will never die. He will always be in my heart."

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