Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Darryl "DJ" Roman Burt II
Beneath his dapper bow ties and professionalism, Darryl "DJ" Burt was someone who could make you laugh until your stomach hurt, says his cousin Takesha Burt.
"DJ has been my best friend for the past 29 years," she says in an email. "He was so smart and even though I was a year older, I really looked up to him. Since the day he was born we have been like twins because we looked so much alike and refused to be apart."
Burt, 29, was a financial aid officer who focused on military students at Keiser University in Jacksonville and had previously worked in management at McDonald's and Forever 21. He had recently become a member of the Jacksonville Jaycees, an organization made up of young people who are trying to make communities better.
"He was definitely one who wasn't afraid to take the lead," says Shawn DeVries, the president of the Jacksonville Jaycees. "He had just chaired his first project in January. It was a clothing drive to raise awareness and bring clothes to the homeless shelter. He was definitely all about giving back. He really wanted to help others."
Takesha Burt says her cousin loved to spend time with his family, especially during Christmas, and when he wasn't trying to change the world, he loved to sing, particularly gospel music. In June, Burt and his family were celebrating because he had just graduated from DeVry University with a master's degree in human resources management. On June 12, he was out with friends celebrating his accomplishments at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, according to the Richmond Free Press. Burt was killed in the mass shooting that started in the early morning hours, along with 48 other people.
"His sense of humor and his confidence are the things I admired most," Takesha Burt says. "I really miss him."
DeVries says Burt's death was a "shock and surprise" for all the Jacksonville Jaycees. The group has helped raised money to benefit Burt's family and plans to dedicate a bench to his memory in a Jacksonville park.
On Facebook, Burt's mother, Felicia Jackson Burt, posted baby pictures of her son and photos from his graduation.
"We refuse to let the hatred of others steal the joy of our child," she says. "Our God is bigger."