Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32, moved to Florida from Mexico in the early 2000s in search of a better life.
He went back to his home state of Veracruz for several years but returned to Tampa less than a year ago, relatives and friends said.
"We came because here in the United States there are many opportunities here and because we were fleeing because in our country there was a lot of crime, violence and death ... and we expect it should be more peaceful here," his cousin Jose Paniagua told Newsday.
The construction worker was looking forward to meeting friends at Pulse for another night of dancing — something he loved to do, friend Lorena Barragan told the Orlando Sentinel.
"He was the best," said Barragan, who met Rayon Paniagua at church. "He was loyal. He was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better."