Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Akyra Monet Murray.
People who met Akyra Monet Murray knew she was going somewhere.
The 18-year-old honors student had recently graduated from West Catholic Preparatory High School third in her class, according to a statement from her school. The Philadelphia teenager known by the nickname "Kira" was also a star athlete who scored 1,000 points while she played on the Lady Burrs basketball team wearing the No. 20 jersey.
Recently, she had also signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Mercyhurst College on a full scholarship.
"Akyra was a respectful and self-determined young woman who served as a natural leader to her teammates and all that observed her from afar," said Beulah Osueke, who coached Murray on the basketball team, in a statement. "What she displayed in academic and athletic excellence, she also displayed with her shining personality."
With all the promise in the world and a long list of accomplishments, Murray and her family came to celebrate in Orlando a week after her graduation. In the early morning hours of June 12, Murray was having a good time with her cousin Tiara Parker and their friend Patience Carter at the gay nightclub Pulse. When the shooting began, Murray and Carter made it out of the club, but went back in to find Parker. Carter and Parker survived the shooting, but Murray did not, making her the youngest victim of the mass shooting that claimed 48 other people.
"Losing Akyra is heartbreaking," Osueke said. "We are currently in the process of healing as a community. This is a very difficult day, not just for the Murray family but for the West Catholic family and all that were touched by Akyra's warmth and magnetic embrace."
Aside from all her achievements, Murray was also a kind person who provided support to her friends, especially her cousin Tiara Parker. On Facebook, Parker says she considered her baby cousin a younger sister.
"My baby is gone," Parker writes. "I miss her so much, but I know it's no more suffering. No more pain. She is at peace. ... Anybody that knows me knows I had my cousin with me almost all the time. I miss her so much."