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New England News

Orlando Shooting Victims Include Two With Western Mass. Ties

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Two people with roots in western Massachusetts are among the dead in the Orlando nightclub massacre.

Kimberly Morris, known as KJ, was a local icon in the Pioneer Valley LGBT community. Under the stage name “Daddy K,” Morris was a dancer and drag performer in nightclubs throughout the region including the now-defunct Polo Club in Hartford and Divas in Northampton.  She was also a regular performer at pride celebrations.

" Just a really sweet person with an awesome smile. A jokester. She liked to emulate Justin Timberlake on the stage a lot. She was a great dancer, a great artist. Off the stage she was humble and nice," said  Nelson Roman of Holyoke. 

He said he became close friends with Morris after they met in 2005.

" I really want the world to know that she was an amazing individual and that her spirit of humility, and humbleness and kindness and love is really what the world should emulate," said Roman.

A native of Torrington, Ct who attended Post University in Waterbury, Morris lived in western Massachusetts for about a decade.  She lived in Hawaii and had moved to Orlando just a couple of months ago to take care of her mother and grandmother who live in Florida, according to Roman.

Morris was working part-time as a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub.

When he heard about the mass-shooting Sunday morning, Roman said he prayed that Morris was OK. When he learned Sunday night that she was dead, he said he was shocked, dismayed, and angry.

" Extremely angry that there are sick individuals in this country and someone who was clearly mentally unstable was able to buy guns legally and go in and kill 50-plus people and KJ was one of them," said Roman.

Roman said he hoped to channel his anger into action for LGBT rights and he appealed for there to be no retaliation directed at Muslims.

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Stanley Manolo Almodovar III

Springfield native Stanley Manolo Almodovar III is also one of the confirmed fatalities in the nightclub shooting. He was 23 years old.  According to a Facebook memorial page he attended Lincoln Elementary school in Springfield as a child.  His family reportedly moved to Florida in 2004.

An uncle, Reginald Cole, in a statement to Western Mass News described Almodovar as “a good kid growing up, happy and outgoing.”

Amaad Rivera, the president of Springfield Pride, said the fact that two people with ties to western Massachusetts were killed in Orlando – and that Morris was so well-known and beloved – only heightened the “concern and dread” in the LGBT community.

" As a community this is the manifestation of our greatest fear: that we can be somewhere that we consider safe and they can take our life in a moment," said Rivera.

Many vigils have occurred or have been announced in the aftermath of the massacre.

The Zakim Bridge and TD Garden in Boston were illuminated with the rainbow colors in a show of support for the victims of the shooting.

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The Pride Flag in outside City Hall in Chicopee,MA.

The Pride Flag was raised to half-staff Monday outside Chicopee City Hall.  Mayor Richard Kos said in a statement “Chicopee is a place of acceptance and understanding and we are proud to fly this flag.”

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