D.C. man remembers friend, shooting victim as 'selfless hero'
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A selfless hero is how a D.C. resident is remembering his close friend and one of the victims killed in the Orlando Night Club Shooting.
Dustin Schaad said he's known 34-year-old Edward Sotomayor Jr. for 12 years and was told by friends Sotomayor texted his partner to keep him out of the club when gunfire broke out.
Other friends and reports out of Florida say Sotomayor was shot in the back as he was shielding his partner from gunfire. Schaad says this sounds like his close friend but recognized either way, his actions are the reason Sotomayor’s partner is still alive.
Schaad shook his head and fought back tears speaking about his friend’s heroic actions.
On that night, he said, “He had sent some stupid video at like 12:30 that night and I didn't I responded like ‘bahaha.’ Like, he was supposed to be here this weekend enjoying D.C. Pride but it's just one of those things like, why didn't he come?"
For whatever reason, Schaad told WUSA9, 34-year-old Edward Sotomayor Jr. was unable to make it to D.C. and decided to stay in Florida. That's where the two met. Schaad is from Bradenton and Sotomayor is from Sarasota.
Schaad is now a D.C. resident.
"Friends come and go but it's rare when you move to a different area, that you stay in contact, so close with someone,” he said.
Sotomayor, he explained, wasn't your ordinary guy. Schaad sid he was selfless with his time, always volunteering. He loved to travel, that's why he worked for a cruise company catering to gay men. On those cruises, his energetic personality was well known.
“I want people to remember his goofy smile. I want people to remember that stupid top hat,” said Schaad, giving a heartfelt laugh and smile.
Sotomayor became known for wearing top hats on cruises. He proudly earned the name “Top Hat Eddie.” A video he sent shortly before gunfire erupted included him with a friend sporting a fake top hat from a social media app.
The 34-year-old left a lasting impact on his friend. Schaad, who works as a professional drag queen, said Sotomayor is also the reason why he has a career.
"When I had doubts about going on my own, becoming a full time performer, he was the 1st one like to say, come on, you can do this. H was just a really good guy,” he told WUSA9 and continued, "I don't know why you would attack people just trying to have a good time ... this has to bring a better conversation. This has to, I mean, I lost a good friend for something stupid. He didn't deserve that, they didn’t' deserve that. It was horrible."
Orlando’s victims range in age from 18 to 50 years old. Most of the victims were in their 20s and 30s. Some were graduates, there was a journalist, and some were even couples.
Click here to read more about the victims.