The youngest identified victim of the Sunday shooting at a popular Orlando nightclub was an accomplished young woman who was celebrating a successful high school career and looking forward to a full college scholarship. Who was Akyra Murray? The 18-year-old is being remembered and mourned by her friends, family, classmates, and teammates.
Murray graduated third in her class of 42 at Philadelphia's West Catholic Preparatory High School days before the June 12 shooting. To celebrate her achievements — two of them being her acceptance to Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA and getting a spot on their basketball team — Murray and her family were vacationing in Orlando when tragedy struck at the Pulse nightclub.
According to reporting from NBC 10 Philadelphia, her father, Albert Murray, posted several items to his Facebook page: "I lost my daughter, one of the greatest inspirations in my life." He went on to say in a later post: "I know she is in a safer place then [sic] America ... You can't even go on vacation." He had dropped Murray off at Pulse at around 11:30 ET on Saturday, along with a cousin and friend. "She begged me to take her. I'm falling apart," he wrote.
The standout athlete had been a 1,000-point scorer on the West Catholic Prep basketball team, and heartfelt tributes from her teammates and friends referencing her jersey number, 20, featured prominently on the trending hashtag #RIPAkyra across social media.
Murray reached out to her mother after the shooting began, asking to be picked up. According to multiple reports, Natalie Murray said that her daughter had been shot in the arm, and was hiding in a bathroom stall for hours, losing blood, without medical treatment. "She was saying she was shot and she was screaming, saying she was losing a lot of blood."
Murray is survived by her mother, father, college-aged brother and four-year-old sister. Her cousin Tiara Parker and friend Patience Carter survived the shooting, and are recovering from injuries sustained during the mayhem, which left 48 additional dead and another 51 wounded. Murray is yet another promising, bright young woman lost to gun violence, and a sobering reminder of our collective failure as American citizens to truly value and respect the dignity of life.