University City-area high school graduate Akyra Murray was the youngest person killed in the shooting in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday, CNN reported.
Murray, 18 years old, graduated on June 6 from West Catholic Preparatory High School on 45th and Chestnut streets. She was a star student and gifted basketball player recruited to play for Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.
“Akyra was a superstar who was a leader amongst her classmates and teammates,” a post on her high school’s website read. “She was an honors student whom graduated third in her class, and a 1,000 point scorer on the Lady Burrs basketball team.”
Murray was on vacation in Florida after her high school graduation with her family, according to ABC News, when she was killed in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Forty-nine people were killed and at least 53 were wounded by gunman Omar Mateen.
Murray was about to leave Pulse nightclub on Sunday night with her friend Patience Carter and her cousin Tiara Parker when the gunman began firing rounds, Carter said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Carter said seconds after Parker ordered an Uber on her phone, what sounded like firecrackers or BB gun pellets rang out in the air. Murray and Carter quickly ran out of the nightclub, but went back in to find Parker when they realized she was not with them.
“If I would have told Akyra to stay outside and just wait while I went inside to get Tiara…” Carter said, briefly choking up. “I told her, Let’s go get Tiara! We got to get Tiara. We went inside. We got trapped in there.”
Carter said the three women ended up hiding in the handicap stall of one of the nightclub’s two bathrooms, where they were all shot by Mateen. Murray was shot fatally in her arm.
Parker recalled Murray begging the gunman to let them live.
“My cousin she got hit in the arm and she was begging him. Please stop. We got hit, please,” Parker told FOX 29 News.
Murray then called and texted her parents, asking them to come save her, according to Philly.com. She told her mother she was losing a lot of blood.
“I just tried to tell her to remain calm and apply pressure to the wound,” her mother, Natalie Murray, told the Associated Press. “All I could hear was my baby screaming.”
Hours later, the hostages were rescued when the police broke down the wall of the bathroom and killed the gunman in a firefight. Murray was sprawled limp across Parker’s lap, Carter recalled, looking “lifeless.” Someone checked her pulse and said she was still alive. Carter picked up Murray’s phone as she was helped out of the stall, intending to give it back to her friend later.
Murray died of her wounds in the hospital on Monday.
West Catholic Preparatory will hold a private vigil for Murray on Wednesday, June 15 in the school auditorium.
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