Orlando Victim’s Mother Addresses DNC

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

This happened yesterday. I meant to get around to posting it but I got wrapped up in other things. I’ve been told that Fox News cut away when Christine Leinonen took to the podium, so if you’re a Fox News watcher, you missed this. And if you missed my memorial to Chrisopher and his partner, Juan Ramón Guerrero, I’ve reposted it below.


Juan Ramón Guerrero, 22 years old (left) Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old.

11888635_10104414853814412_7563205979875695064_oDrew was originally from Detroit, but he moved to Florida while young with his mother. He started the gay-straight alliance at Seminole High School, an act which earned him the title of Anne Frank Humanitarian Award Honoree in 2002. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology at the University of Central Florida, and worked as a licensed mental health counselor. As half-Asian, he was proud of his “gaysian” identity. “He had all of this diversity in him that made him approach subjects from an interesting standpoint,” one friend said. “He could relate to anything almost.”

Juan was a pre-finance student at the University of Central Florida, and he was working as a customer service repo at a credit union. He had aspirations to be a financial advisor. Juan had come out to his cousin a few years ago but was worried about who the rest of his Dominican family would react. He came out to them earlier this year, and the family was accepting. “If he was happy, they were good.” Juan’s father described his son as quiet. “He was not a party boy.” But he loved Latin music.

20160614143323_24858370_0_bodyFriends and family described Juan and Drew as inseparable. “They were always together,” said one friend at UCF. “If you saw one, you saw the other.” Juan’s sister said, “They were honestly so in love. They were soulmates. You can tell by how they looked at each other. It’s a little comforting that they died together”

Drew last spoke to his mother earlier that evening when they were at SeaWorld. “I called him last night at 6 o’clock,” she said the day of the shooting. “He was at SeaWorld …I left him with, ‘I love you Chris.'” Drew and Juan went to Pulse with two Friends. As last call was approaching at 2:00 a.m., the four were ready to leave. The friends needed to go to the bathroom, so Drew and Juan waited for them on the dance floor. When shooting broke out, their friends were able to escape, but Drew and Juan were shot.

JuanRamonGuerrero-DrewLeinonen-4Friends saw Juan being taken to the hospital in an ambulance with multiple gunshot wounds, but he died of his injuries. For much of that day, Drew’s mother held vigil at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Her pleas for information about her son to every reporter she could corral made her the face of the kind of agony hundreds of families were going through. “I just feel terrible. I don’t know where my son is,” she said, sobbing during an interview Sunday morning. “We can’t get a hold of him. He was sitting right next to his boyfriend.”

On Monday, Drew’s name was among the last names to be released among the 49 casualties. Drew and Juan had a joint funeral at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of Saint Luke in downtown Orlando. “I think my son wanted to do that. That’s why,” said Juan’s father through tears. “I don’t care what the people think. I don’t care.” His sister added, “If it’s not a funeral, they were going to have a wedding together.”

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