A magical tribute. Harry Potter fans gathered at Universal Studios Orlando’s Hogwarts castle on Monday, June 13, to honor the victims of the mass shooting that took place on Sunday, June at Pulse, a gay nightclub.
Droves of LGBT individuals and allies — some dressed in wizard attire — came out to pay their respects to the 49 people who died and the 53 wounded in the violent rampage. In a powerful and moving moment, the large crowd raised their wands in solidarity in remembrance of those affected by the tragedy.
On Monday morning, J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to mourn the loss of Luis Vielma, a victim killed in the massacre who used to work on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride inside Universal’s Harry Potter World.
“Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal,” the Harry Potter author, 50, wrote alongside a photo of Vielma dressed in his work uniform. “He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying.”
Shortly after Rowling posted about Vielma, Universal Studios released a statement regarding his death.
Universal team members and friends gather around wands and candles placed on the ground in front of Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. The items were placed there in memory of Universal Orlando team members Luis Vielma and Xavier Serrano, who were killed in the Orlando nightclub attacks. Luis worked in the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and sometimes used a wand as part of this role. Xavier was a parade performer. #orlandounited #orlandostrong #orlandopride #harrypotter #tribute #twitter #universal #universalorlando #islandsofadventure #prayfororlando #wizardingworld #oneorlando
“We are deeply saddened over the loss of our team member. We are working to support his friends and colleagues here at Universal Orlando,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Luis, his family, and all the victims of this tragedy.”
As previously reported, the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS before police shot and killed him just before 6 a.m., nearly four hours after he opened fire inside the gay club. After carrying out what is now the deadliest shooting in American history, many outlets have reported that the 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Florida, had a history of messaging men on gay dating apps and spent many nights at Pulse prior to his attack.
Omar’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, has denied that his son was “radicalized” and vehemently insisted that he was not gay, despite speculation. In a Tuesday interview with Sky News, Seddique blamed the severity of his son’s shooting on the lack of security at Pulse.
“The first thing I want to say is that club should have had good security,” the Afghani immigrant stated. “The club, that four or 300 people were coming, they should have had good security. If there was good security, he wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”
Sign up for Us Weekly's free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!