Word spread rapidly from Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum to friends on social media around the country Monday when it was learned Antonio Davon Brown was among the 49 people killed Sunday morning during a massacre inside an Orlando nightclub.
Brown, a native of Cocoa Beach, graduated from FAMU in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice. He also earned a commission as a second lieutenant, having completed Army ROTC studies at FAMU.
"Our hearts go out to all of the families of those affected in the tragic shooting that took place in Orlando on Sunday morning," FAMU President Elmira Mangum said in a statement. "The horrendous incident happened not far from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Law School in downtown Orlando.
"We are especially saddened by the news that one of the victims was part of the FAMU family," she said of Brown. "He graduated from FAMU in 2008 and is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni on social media."
Mangum said the university will provide an update plans for a memorial or service of remembrance for Brown.
"In the meantime, the Florida A&M University community stands with the entire Orlando community in the wake of tragedy," she said. "Our thoughts, and prayers for peace are with everyone in central Florida and across this nation."
FAMU also announced The FAMU Law School Student Association will hold a Gathering for Reflection and Healing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Orlando. It will be held in the Atrium of the College of Law, and is open to all members of the College of Law community, their family members and friends.
Lt. Col. Kelvin Scott taught ROTC at FAMU from 2005 to 2008. He hadn't heard the news of Brown's death until reached by a reporter.
"He was a very positive young man," said Scott, who now teaches Junior ROTC in Cusseta, Georgia. "He kept a smile on his face. He was a very positive person with a very good sense of humor. He was willing to work very hard to earn his commission."
Scott said he couldn't recall if Brown was a scholarship ROTC student or not, but that he received the same benefits and stipend as others.
"I do want to keep his family in our prayers and remember him for being a great person who was willing to work hard," Scott said.
Friends took to Facebook and Twitter to recall Brown, who was a captain in the Army reserves at the time of his death. At least one person indicated he had served in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He also pledged a graduate chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity while in Kansas City in 2011.
Devonta White, 31, remembers how Brown made him feel welcomed when he transferred to FAMU from Tennessee State in 2006. The two were neighbors on the first floor of Gibbs Hall. White was originally from Detroit and was new to the campus.
"He had a car so when he went to Wal-Mart, I would ride with him," said White, a 2011 graduate of FAMU's School of Business & Industry who now works in marketing for Ralph Lauren in New York. "We just became good friends over time. He helped me more than he knows."
White said Brown got up early to be on time for drills and became close with ROTC students, but remained friends with White, who also made other friends.
White said he remembers Brown's bright smile and positive attitude. He said they last talked when White graduated from FAMU and he told Brown that "he had finally made it out."
White said he was sitting at his desk Monday when he got the alert from FAMU of Brown's death.
"It hit close to home because I had other friends who knew another one of the victims, Shane Tomlinson, whose name was released earlier Monday; Antonio's name was released later," he said.
Lt. Col, Gregory Clark, president of the FAMU National Alumni Association, also issued a statement in response to the Orlando deaths.
"The Florida A&M University Alumni Family is truly saddened to learn of the tragic shooting in Orlando that has claimed the lives of so many innocent victims; including one of our own," he wrote. "Their hopes and dreams have been lost because of a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of alumnus Antonio Brown and the grief-stricken families of those who are struggling now to cope with the overwhelming loss of their loved ones. We are all in a state of disbelief."