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Orlando: Shooting victim’s ties to Pawleys bring tragedy home

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

A bartender killed in the nation’s worst mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., is being mourned by family members in Pawleys Island.

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, was among 49 people killed by a gunman early Sunday morning at Pulse, a nightclub catering to the LGBT community. She is the daughter of the Rev. Shepherd Drayton Jr. of Eastover, near Columbia, and the granddaughter of the pastors of New Refuge Church in Pawleys Island, Shepherd and Mamie Drayton.

Relatives and a family friend said they had been told by the FBI not to discuss the woman’s death.

The slain woman lived in Myrtle Beach briefly, according to traffic records, before moving to Florida.

“She was a sweetheart,” said Barbara Drayton, an aunt, “willing to do anything for anybody.”

Another aunt, Patricia Drayton Banks, asked for prayers on Facebook for Drayton, known to friends and family as Dee Dee, and for her family. Her post said: “Senseless. She was at work!!! R.I.P Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.”

News reports about Drayton said she was loving but quick to tell someone off if she thought they were in the wrong. That was her way of showing she cared.

A former girlfriend, Ashleigh Alleyne, said Drayton had her demons, but she was in the midst of a renaissance. Drayton was going to church and had adopted a different group of friends. “I know that she didn’t leave this earth doing wrong,” Alleyne said. “She was actually putting in effort, because we both hit rock bottom at the same time. She pushed me to get through my issues and I always tried to do the same for her.”

Drayton is survived by a 3-year-old boy she helped raise.

Fifty-three others inside the nightclub were wounded. A total of 21 remained hospitalized three days after the shooting with six in critical condition.

Police stormed the nightclub after a two hour standoff and killed suspected killer Omar Mateen. An Orlando Police Department news release indicated the Sig Sauer .223 assault weapon and Glock 17 handgun used in the shooting were purchased within the past two weeks.

Several regulars of the Pulse nightclub said they had seen Mateen at the nightclub before. One patron told the Orlando Sentinel he had seen Mateen there a dozen times, and another told the Sentinel Mateen had been going to the club “for years.”

FBI Director James Comey said investigators were looking at the possibility that Mateen had also scouted Disney World as a potential target of the shooting, the Associated Press reported.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Monday that it’s possible some victims were killed by officers trying to save them during the shooting, which started around 2 a.m. Sunday. Police breached a wall with explosives and an armored vehicle when they believed further loss of life was imminent based on the phone conversations with Mateen.

The FBI has Mateen’s cellphone, but law enforcement officials could have difficulty accessing information on it, particularly if it’s an Android smartphone — which it appears Mateen used at one point.

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