TAMPA — Chris Brodman, 34, knew the value of his life.
Three months ago, he survived the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, yelling to his friends to run as soon as he heard the first shots. After that, he was determined to make the most of every moment he had left, friends said. He was going to resume school at Valencia College, travel the world and never pass up an opportunity to make a new memory.
But Brodman died suddenly about 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the back yard of a home northwest of Tampa.
"I'll never, ever understand this," said his friend Ramses Tinoco, who was with Brodman the night of the Pulse shooting. "He was so young and he could have achieved his dreams and taken the second opportunity God had given us of living to another level. He had so much potential."
Friends say Brodman, an outgoing redhead from Orlando, was at a party at the $1.2 million home at 12224 Garden Lake Circle in the Keystone area of Hillsborough County when he passed away. Investigators have not determined what caused his death.
Hillsborough sheriff's deputies were called to the home about 1:17 a.m. and found Brodman in the back yard unconscious, officials said. Paramedics attempted to revive him but could not. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office found no signs of homicidal violence, sheriff's officials said. A determination of his cause of death was pending the results of forensic and toxicology tests.
Brodman was among the hundreds of people inside the Pulse nightclub in June when a gunman walked in and began shooting. He escaped unharmed and later made several appearances on television talking about the shooting. He got a tattoo over his heart as a memorial to the victims.
Brodman, who was adopted, had little family but made up for it with his large circle of friends and active social life, said Tinoco, who met him at a party in the mid 2000s. Both were new to Orlando — Brodman was from New York City — and were looking for fresh starts.
Brodman wasn't afraid to leave a good job for a new opportunity, Tinoco said, and often landed positions as soon as he walked in for interviews. His real passion, though, was travel — Europe, New Orleans, cruises to anywhere and everywhere.
"He was so tall and so handsome and always so hyper talking to everybody and anybody," Tinoco said. "To me, he was the center of everything. But he always wanted to be better."
On Tuesday, Brodman's friends launched a Go Fund Me page, called Funeral for Chris Brodman, to help Tinoco and others cover his funeral expenses. By Tuesday night, it had raised $490 toward a $7,000 goal.
Contact Anastasia Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.