News & Features » Pulse

Remembering the Orlando 49: Juan Chávez Martínez



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: Juan Chávez Martínez

By day, Juan Chávez Martínez worked diligently as a housekeeping supervisor at the Reunion Resort in Kissimmee. But in his spare time, the 25-year-old Davenport resident who was nicknamed "Juancho" dreamed of being a hairstylist, a makeup artist or a decorator, according to his friends.

Originally from Huichapan, Mexico, Chávez Martínez left his home almost a decade ago to help his parents out of poverty by sending them money. His sister-in-law Angelia Garza Chávez says he worked in construction for about a year with his brother in Bartow before moving closer to Central Florida's tourism district. Garza Chávez says her brother-in-law stood out for his blond highlights and his love of exercise. He also liked to dance, especially to EDM and Lady Gaga, she says.

Chávez Martínez was doing what he loved one night at the gay nightclub Pulse, where he was partying with his friends Selvin Dubon and Joel Rayón Paniagua on June 12. When the shooting started, Dubon was able to escape, but Chávez Martínez and Rayón Paniagua perished.

"My carnal, my brother, one of my best friends – you left me," Dubon wrote on Facebook after his friend's death. "I'll remember you, brother."

Another friend, Ahtysl Urdaneta Contreras, said on Facebook that Chávez Martínez may be physically gone, but he left those who knew him his joy and his willingness to share his artistic talents without expecting anything in return.

"We had a friend who inspired us with his music, his affection, his image advice and that contagious need to go on the Internet and investigate better techniques for hairstyling, makeup and decoration," Urdaneta Contreras wrote. "We had a great young man among us – a treasure."

Garza Chávez says her brother-in-law always made time for his nieces and gave them bracelets. One of her daughters always wears a purple bracelet that belonged to her uncle.

"I'm gonna miss you, Tío," his niece, Ruby Gonzalez, wrote on Facebook. "All of the memories we had was amazing and loving. You're always gonna be in my heart."


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.