An El Mirage family has created a memorial in their front yard to honor three friends who were killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre.
Mark Perron, who just moved to the Valley a few months ago, said three of his four daughters still live in Orlando so he went through the initial panic of trying to get in touch with his children to make sure everyone was safe.
He said while Pulse identifies as an LGBTQ club, Saturday nights there are also Latin dance nights and draw all walks of life, often including his daughters. One of Perron’s daughters decided at the last minute not to go to the nightclub with her friends Saturday night, and they later learned three of their friends who did go didn’t make it out alive.
"You find out your daughter's best friends were killed in a heinous act of hatred, it hurts even more," Perron said.
He said Mercedez Flores and Amanda Alvear were best friends with his eldest daughter and that she had just gotten back from a cruise to the Bahamas with Alvear.
Alvear is also a name many recognize now from her final Snapchat when the shooting started.
Perron said another one of the victims, Luis Vielma, was a close friend of his other daughter and worked with her at Universal Studios. Vielma has since been recognized by author J.K. Rowling on Facebook for his love for Harry Potter.
"They're all real cheerful, happy kids. That's why they go out, go to clubs. They go out to enjoy life and have fun," Perron said.
A fourth friend of the girls, Perron said, was shot twice in the back and she is still in critical condition in a Florida hospital.
Perron said the lights and sign bearing the names of their fallen friends will stay up until the colors fade or at least a fraction of the pain does.
"We put this up to let others know they're not alone. Our prayers are with all the families," Perron said.