Luis Vielma, a ride attendant at Universal Orlando, an avid Harry Potter fan and a student at Seminole State College was among the 49 victims killed in a shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the early morning of June 12.

The college said in a series of statements that Vielma graduated in 2014 with his associate's degree and planned on continuing into the emergency medical services program. He was enrolled in a CPR class for the summer.

Vielma “just wanted to make people smile,” said Olga Glomba, one of Vielma's coworkers at Universal Studios.

Vielma, 22, worked at the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and at the Disaster Studios attraction before it closed in September.

"We are deeply saddened over the loss of our Team Member. We are working to support his friends and colleagues here at Universal Orlando," said Bill Davis, president and COO of Universal Orlando Resort, in a post to the resort's Facebook page. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Luis, his family and all the victims of this tragedy."

J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, paid her respects on Twitter June 13.

"Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old," Rowling wrote. "I can't stop crying."

Rowling also sent a wreath of flowers to Vielma's June 17 funeral.

Hogwarts is Here, a website and platform for the Harry Potter fandom, shared a photo of Luis on its Facebook page the night after the shooting, along with a statement on his death:

"One of the victims was Luis. He worked at Forbidden Journey. He was a Gryffindor. He was a kid. He was a human being that died for just being him," the post said. "Universal shut down the ride as a sign of mourning to those who worked with him. He will be missed by many and, along with everyone else, the HP fandom will mourn his passing. Rest In Love, sweet wizard."

Jonathon Timpanelli, one of Vielma's coworkers at Universal, said in a public Facebook post the evening of June 12 that Vielma "had such a positive attitude. Always happy and a joy to be around. His family is in my prayers. This is all so surreal still. It breaks my heart."

As reported by Attractions Magazine, a vigil was held for Vielma and Xavier Serrano, another Universal worker killed in the shooting, outside Hogwarts Castle at Universal's Islands of Adventure park Monday evening. Attendees raised candles -- and Harry Potter wands -- into the air in remembrance.

"Luis Vielma, you were one of the kindest people I have ever come to know. At Disaster, everyone's day would brighten up whenever you came in," said Will Randle, another of Vielma's former Universal coworkers, in a public Facebook post. "You were not on this Earth for long. But you have changed my life forever and I will always strive to be even half the person you were."

Josh Boesch, a friend of Vielma's, made a public Facebook post at 3:05 p.m. on June 12 asking Vielma if he was okay.

The post, which tagged Vielma's Facebook account, read "Luis Vielma please tell me you okay brother!"

Boesch made another post at 6:47 after hearing of Vielma's death.

"I'm so sad right now ... Luis Vielma, a very good friend from Universal Orlando, has passed away today from the terrible attack yesterday," Boesch wrote. "[It] was just a week or two ago that I talked to him."

On June 13, a crowdfunding campaign sprung up on GoFundMe to raise money for Vielma's funeral arrangements. As of June 21, the campaign had already raised $17,027 of its $20,000 goal with donations from 317 people.

"You would never see him without a smile on his face no matter what was going on around him," said Joana Vargas, a family friend of the Vielmas, in a posting on the GoFundMe campaign. "Whether he was at the theme parks, playing soccer, or just hanging out with his friends, that smile was constant.

"We would love to keep his memory alive by having a wand named after him and even the possibility of a character in the wizarding world based off his beautiful soul," Vargas wrote.

Vielma played soccer for the Deltona Adult Soccer League, which posted a photo of Vielma on their website along with a statement saying they would hold a fundraiser for his family. As reported by the Daytona News-Journal, a vigil to commemorate Vielma happened June 14 on the Deltona soccer fields where he played. Members of one team wore rainbow-colored ribbons on their jerseys during their matches that night.

Seminole State College partnered with the school's UNITY Gay-Straight Alliance to hold a memorial for Vielma and the other victims on June 20.

"We are so fortunate and filled with joy from the support of his loved ones, friends, family and people who didn't know him," said Luis' brother Brian at the memorial service, according to a press release from the college.

Although a temporary memorial wall is in place in Seminole State's student center, plans are in the works for a permanent memorial. Additionally, the Foundation for Seminole State College established the Luis Vielma Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to public safety and healthcare students.

The FLORIDA TODAY staff contributed to this report.


Alex Storer is the Entertainment Editor of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him at

Read or Share this story: