Akyra Murray’s college application reads poetically. She ranked third in her high school class at West Catholic Prep, where she played basketball and was a 1,000-point scorer. She was noted for having a positive spirit. Murray was killed on June 12, 2016. She was among the 49 who died at the hands of terrorist Omar Mateen at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Murray, 18, was laid to rest on Friday, June 24, 2016 at Monument Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. They city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, suggested her teammates organize a tournament in her honor: “Wrap yourself around something in her name and keep her memory and spirit alive.”
Murray had just graduated a week before her family’s vacation in Orlando, and had plans to attend Mercyhurst University on a basketball scholarship this fall. Formerly Mercyhurst College, it’s a Catholic liberal arts college located in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Murray’s friend Patience Carter, 20, was on vacation with Akyra Murray and Tiara Parker’s family. Murray’s parents dropped them off at the club that night for a girls’ night out. When gunshots erupted, Carter was exiting the building and Murray joined her. It wasn’t until they noticed Parker was still inside that they went back to look for their friend. The trio reunited and retreated to a handicapped bathroom stall for safety. The gunman, Omar Mateen, followed them and opened fire. All three of the ladies were shot.
“At that point we knew that this wasn’t a game. This was very real and this was something that was really happening to us right now. It was a shock. We went from having the time of our lives to the worst night of our lives all within a matter of minutes,” Carter tells the media.
Carter says Mateen returned to the stall, called out and asked if there were any Black people hiding behind the doors.
She was too afraid to respond, but another Black person said yes. Mateen put away his weapon and said, “I don’t have a problem with Black people … This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.”
Murray bled to death from her injuries during the three-hour standoff with the SWAT team.
A GoFundMe page set up for Murray’s family has raised more than $14,600.
On the page, Murray’s West Catholic coach Beulah Osueke notes, “Akyra was a stellar student-athlete, powerful leader, and carrier of great hope and ambition … Her selflessness inspired her teammates and all who observed her from the sideline whether in games, in the classroom, or in her everyday life.”