Woman shot 9 times in Pulse attack to honor slain friend by naming son after him

It has been three and a half years since 49 lives were lost in the Pulse terror attack, but survivors are still finding ways to remember those who were killed.

Shots rang out moments after Ilka Reyes snapped a photo with friends inside the nightclub on June 12 of 2016.

Reyes soon found herself on the ground with nine gunshot wounds.

“People don’t believe that was me,” Reyes said. “I say, ‘Yes, that was me.’”

During her treatment and road to recovery, she had one question for the doctor.

“I asked him if I could be a mother,” Reyes said. “That was one of my dreams. To be a mom.”

After being released from the hospital, Reyes would later find her dreams realized.

Her son, due in January, will be named after her best friend, Oscar Aracena, who died at Pulse.

That isn’t where the story stops. Reyes and her wife Franzuas will be new mothers because of donor Jose Andujar, who also has a son named after Pulse victim Simon Carillo.

“The entire journey I want him to see the pictures, the videos, everything,” Reyes said.

Reyes said she plans on naming her son, Zuriel Oscar.

“I wanted a name that means strength,” Reyes said. “And Zuriel means strength of God.”


Nancy Alvarez, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team in May 2010 and am currently co-anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning alongside Jamie Holmes.