What was supposed to be a fun night turned into a tragedy when a gun-wielding man approached a group of friends outside a restaurant in Florida on Saturday. #Juan Javier Cruz was with his gay friends when an unknown man confronted them before the actual shooting took place.

Murder case fueled by homophobia

According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report, the gunman specifically mocked and threatened Cruz' gay friends during the encounter. “I hate you damned gays. I’m going to kill you all here,” the man said as cited by an eyewitness. “If we were in my country, I'd kill all of you like rats."

Several witnesses said that the man pulled out a handgun and opened fire after mocking the group.

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Cruz was reportedly trying to defend his gay friends when the suspect shot and killed him on the spot. Aside from the 22-year-old Florida man, another unidentified bystander was reportedly shot in his ankle during the incident.

A day after the tragic encounter, authorities were able to arrest the suspect, identified as Nelson Hernandez Mena, a 48-year-old native of Honduras. He was immediately charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated assault with a firearm, while the police are still investigating if Mena will be charged with hate crime.

The suspect explained that he was "very drunk" when the incident happened and insisted that it was not his intention to harm anyone. On Monday, a judge ordered that Mena should be held accountable without bail.

The internet reacts to shooting incident

Meanwhile, the shooting incident, which was believed to fueled by #Homophobia, has caused outrage online.

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Several social media users condemned the act, while others called to denounce hate crimes against the members of #LGBTQ community.

Others have also expressed their condolences to the bereaved family of Cruz, whom they called a "hero" for laying down his own life to protect his friends from a homophobic man.

"Rest in peace, Juan Javier Cruz. May your heroic spirit soar in a place without hate and pain," a Twitter user wrote. Another one said, "Fragile masculinity is deadly. Rest in power, Juan Javier Cruz. My heart goes out to your beautiful spirit and those who are grieving your loss."

According to an NBC News report, right activists consider Honduras, where the suspect came from, as "one of the most hostile and dangerous countries for human rights defenders." In fact, LGBT activists fear for their lives after they saw the drastic increase in LGBT killings in the country since 2009.