NewsHillsborough County


Mother of youngest Pulse victim leaves daughter's room untouched six years later

Akyra Murray died in the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub
Posted at 10:16 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-12 08:39:09-04

TAMPA, FLA. — Nearly six years later, the mother of the youngest Pulse victim has left her daughter's room untouched.

Sunday marks six years since 49 people lost their lives at Pulse in Orlando.

Akyra Murray, 18, died from her injuries. She called her mother saying she was shot in the arm. Her mother was unable to reach her after that phone call.

Murray was visiting Orlando with her family from Philadelphia. Murray, her cousin, and their friend decided to go to the nightclub to go dancing. The girls ended up barricaded inside a bathroom stall. At times, they were next to the gunman.

Akyra's mother, Natalie Murray, said she has not touched her daughter's room since she died. The room is just how the 18-year-old left it. Her mother said her daughter wrote quotes on the walls and a poster of singer Aaliyah still hangs on the wall.

Her daughter had just graduated high school and had earned a full-ride basketball scholarship to Mercyhurst College.

"Akyra's room is probably exactly like I left it. I never even unpacked her bag from six years ago. The Florida bag is still in her room, in her closet, literally. I haven't touched her room," said Natalie Murray.

Natalie said the FBI returned her daughter's belongings including shorts, shoes and a cracked cell phone.

"Enclosed please find Akyra's belongings received from the FBI Victim Assistance Office," the letter read.

Natalie said if her daughter was still alive, she would be happy. She likely would have pursued a career in criminology and sociology.

More than 50 people were injured at the nightclub.

Orlando Torres survived the mass shooting with minor injuries. He said he was in the bathroom when the gunfire started. He hid in the bathroom stall with a friend.

"Within minutes he came in and we were hearing the big popping sounds in our restroom and he shot in the stall behind us. I was unaware of who was in the other stall which was the handicapped stall. It was the bigger stall. I come to find out there was probably 12-14 people in there," recalled Torres.

Nearly three hours after the first shots were fired, the OPD SWAT team used explosives and an armored vehicle to breach the exterior wall of the bathroom.

They used their SWAT vehicle to plow the bumpers into the walls and I’m hearing a lot of banging, booming, all of a sudden shots started firing. It felt like a war zone," said Torres.

The SWAT team shot and killed the gunman.

"Thank God, I wasn’t shot. Thank God...a couple times my life flashed in front of me where I’m surprised, I’m still here, but it was sad to know later on in the hospital, I learned on the news— the numbers were growing of victims," he recalled.

"I started seeing pictures of friends I knew."

Torres said he shares his story about that night because he knows there were so many others who never got the chance.

"Always be vigilant out there, always look at your surroundings. Definitely look at your exits," he said.

Natalie said that morning replays in her mind every single day.

"Every day I can remember, every step, every conversation, every move we made. I can remember it just like it was yesterday. It sits vivid in my mind, all day, all the time," said Natalie.

The mass shooting left 49 people dead and more than 50 others injured.

Learn about the Pulse Interim Memorial here.