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Orlando Victims Planning to Get Married Will Have a Joint Funeral Instead

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Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, and his boyfriend Christopher Leinonen, 32, were two of the many victims to have lost their lives in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last weekend. The couple was so in love, they were planning to get married in the near future. Sadly instead of a wedding, the families of the two men will be hosting a joint funeral service for them.

Guerrero's father, also named Juan Ramon Guerrero, told TIME that the two families want the couple to be together when their loved ones say goodbye. "I think my son wanted to do that. That's why," he shared. "I don't care what people think. I don't care."

Family members shared that Guerrero and Leinonen had lived together and been dating for almost two years. Guerrero's older sister, Aryam, told TIME that when he came out as gay to the family three years ago, everyone accepted and supported him without question. Looking back now on her brother's relationship, she describes, "They were honestly so in love. They were soul mates. You can tell by how they looked at each other." She also expressed the comfort the family got from the two dying together.

The Orlando shooting is now known as the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, resulting in 49 people unexpectedly losing their lives.

Guerrero had a promising future, having just finished his first year at the University of Central Florida after two years at community college. He had hopes of one day becoming a financial advisor. He was set to turn 23 soon—the Guerrero family still plans on celebrating the date. 

Meanwhile, Leinonen was an active member and advocate for Orlando's gay community. He even received a humanitarian award for establishing a gay-straight alliance at his high school, his mother told ABC News.

The Guerreros learned of their son's death shortly after news of the shooting got out. When they rushed to the hospital to see if their son had survived, they saw a list of just nine victims—Juan Ramon Guerrero was one of them. Eventually, hospital staff and FBI agents took the family into a private room to explain the situation, including Guerrero's fate.

While Guerrero's death was known shortly after the attack on Pulse, Leinonen was believed to be missing for a while following the shooting. Leinonen's mother, Christine, gave an on-air interview to ABC News, saying between tears that she didn't know where her son was, but feared the worst. "The hospital said there are some bodies at the hospital that came in and they died and they're not identifiable yet either." Chris Leinonen was confirmed dead on Monday, after the City of Orlando released its list of deceased. 

"Please, let's all just get along," Leinonen said to ABC News in her emotional interview. "We're on this earth for such a short time. Let's try to get rid of the hatred and the violence, please!"


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