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: Jean Carlos Méndez Pérez
Jean Carlos Méndez Pérez found love through a scent.
The 35-year-old was working at the Perfumania in the Orlando Premium Outlets when Luis Daniel Wilson-León walked in. It was love at first sight, remembers Wilson-León's cousin, Laly Santiago-León. Méndez Pérez sold his future partner a bottle of Declaration by Cartier, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Wanda Ferrer, a close friend of the couple, describes them as polar opposites who couldn't live without each other. Wilson-León was an outgoing person who loved to eat mofongo, pinchos and alcapurrias, while Méndez Pérez was a reserved person who liked to go to the gym and spend hours in the bathroom primping his face, for which no cream was too expensive. They lived together in Kissimmee and when they weren't working, they liked to go to the movies or on vacations. Both from Puerto Rico, they understood what it was like to have family members who loved them, but could not accept their devotion to each other, Ferrer says.
"Their love was greater than anything," she says. "They fought like everybody else, but they were going to last a lifetime. Dani would say, 'He makes me mad, but I love him the way he is.'"
Ferrer says she was invited by Luis Daniel Conde and Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, owners of a salon in Kissimmee, to the gay nightclub Pulse for some partying on June 12. She did not end up going, but later found out Méndez Pérez and Wilson-León had joined the couple there. The four friends all died in the mass shooting that ultimately killed 49 people that day.
On Méndez Pérez's birthday last month, his father, Angel Méndez, left him a message on Facebook.
"My Jinky, I love you," he wrote in Spanish. "I know that soon I will see you again. My dear son of my soul, happy birthday."