J.K. Rowling Honors An Orlando Shooting Victim Who Worked On Universal’s ‘Harry Potter’ Ride

The casualties suffered Sunday during the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub are heart-shattering. There’s no way to make sense of the deaths of 49 innocent people, and the fact that it was presumably a hate crime on LGBTQ individuals sheds an even more terrifying light on what our culture is capable of breeding. As we attempt to string together sentences full of condolences or vague forward movement, it’s important that public figures speak up in palpable ways, which is why it’s important that J.K. Rowling posted a tribute to an Orlando shooting victim who worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios.

Humanizing the victims and learning their names, ages, what they liked to do, and what creations, ideas, or artifacts they left behind is a crucial part of the collective healing process and properly honors their lives. Getting angry about our current conditions and taking action is very important in its own right, but using the grieving process to highlight who the victims were and that they have identities that fractured families are now missing is such an important reminder of how each life lost is immense.

As a novelist who gives complete attention to the emotional details of her characters and their story arcs at large, it makes sense that Rowling would research and mourn the victims in a way that recognizes individuality and doesn’t clump them all into a monolith.

She posted on Twitter Sunday mourning the loss of Luis Vielma, a 22-year-old who worked as an assistant at Universal Orlando Resort’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. One of his friends saw Rowling’s tweet and sweetly responded, thanking her for the tribute and assuring her that Vielma loved working the Harry Potter ride.

Vielma’s co-worker at Universal, Olga Glombo, also mourned his passing in an email to The Orlando Sentinel saying, “He was a true friend. A funny, sweet, nerdy guy without a mean side. He just wanted to make people smile.”

Photos from him in his uniform at Orlando Studios revealed him as a Spanish speaker originally hailing from Acapulco, Mexico. Beyond working at Universal Studio, Vielma was enrolled at Seminole State College where he was studying to be an EMT. Upon hearing the news, the college made a statement saying:

“We offer our condolences to the families and friends of all those who were killed and injured. These events have shocked and saddened the Central Florida community.”

Vielma was known by coworkers as a sweet and lovable guy, and also spent his free time playing soccer in the Deltona Adult Soccer League.


RIP Luis Vielmas, sending your family and friends all the peace.