Remembering the Orlando 49: Enrique L. Rios Jr.


Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Enrique L. Rios Jr.

Nia Garcia can't help but laugh when she remembers the pranks she pulled with her cousin Enrique L. Rios Jr. The two grew up together, and one of their favorite activities was playing tricks on their family and friends.

Garcia says she recalls one memorable joke when the pair tricked their grandmother into calling a restaurant that had the same name as one of their other cousins. As the conversation between restaurant hostess and grandmother continued, the elderly woman began to suspect it wasn't her granddaughter she was speaking to.

She hung up confused, turning to her grandson and asking, "Who did you have me call, Enrique?"

Rios, 25, was always doing things like that, bringing laughter to others. Garcia says he was definitely a clown, but also a good man raised in a devout Baptist family.

"He really took on the role of just being there for everybody. ... If you had a bad situation, he knew automatically, he had these instincts that would kick in, and he would do something."

Rios was on vacation in Orlando last June when he was shot and killed at Pulse. He lived in Brooklyn, New York, working as a coordinator at a home health care agency. Garcia says he loved to work with older people, supporting and caring for them.

"He had this gift where he would see the good in people and knew how to encourage you with his words," she says. "He really did have a way with words where he made you feel brand-new after hearing him."

When he wasn't working, he loved to dance and cook, always wearing a smile that matched Garcia's.

"Everybody knew him for his smile," she says. "Everybody in the family says we had the same smile."

Garcia says she hopes that when people remember her cousin, they remember to stay true to themselves.

"I think he would just never want someone to not stand up for who they are."