The families of a couple killed in the Orlando shooting said they will have a joint funeral, instead of the wedding they had hoped for.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, and his 32-year-old boyfriend, Christopher ‘Drew’ Leinonen, were among the 49 people who were killed on Sunday in the worst mass shooting in American history.
The Guerrero family told Time that they want to have a funeral where the two can be buried side-by-side.
Juan’s father, Ramon Guerrero, said he believed a joint funeral service was what his son would have wanted.
Juan’s 24-year-old sister, Aryam, said:
If it’s not a funeral, they were going to have a wedding together. They were honestly so in love. They were soul mates. You can tell by how they looked at each other. It’s a little comforting that they died together.
The couple had been dating for two years and were living together, their families said.
Leinonen’s mother, Christine, told ABC News that she’s proud of her son, who had established the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school and received a humanitarian award as a result. She said she last spoke to him on Saturday night and her last words to him were ‘I love you, Chris.’
Juan had been studying at the University of Central Florida. His sister, Aryam, said he hoped to become a financial advisor.
Speaking of the shooting, Aryam recalled the family rushing to the hospital – hopeful at the time. Then she happened to glance at a sheet of paper with about nine names of victims, including Juan Ramon Guerrero. She told TIME: “I said, ‘That’s my brother! That’s my brother! Tell me what’s going on.’”
They were turned away at first but were later taken into a room with hospital officials and a representative from the FBI who broke the news. Aryam said: “The moment I heard my mom yell out, we all knew. I just kept saying, ‘This isn’t real.’ I just didn’t want it to be real.”
His father, Ramon, said Juan would have turned 23 in a few days and that his wife would cook all of their son’s favorite foods in his honor. He said: “He was a beautiful kid, a hard worker, friendly, sweet person. I lost part of my life.”
With both families in support of a joint funeral, we hope Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher ‘Drew’ Leinonen can rest in peace together. Our thoughts go out to their families, and everyone else’s affected by this horrific event.