Torrington native killed in Orlando mass shooting - WFSB 3 Connecticut

TERROR IN ORLANDO

Torrington native killed in Orlando mass shooting

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Kimberly Morris of Torrington was identified as one of the victims from the Pulse club shooting in Orlando. (Friend/CBS photo) Kimberly Morris of Torrington was identified as one of the victims from the Pulse club shooting in Orlando. (Friend/CBS photo)
Condolences and support have been appearing on KJ Morris's Facebook page. (Facebook photo) Condolences and support have been appearing on KJ Morris's Facebook page. (Facebook photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

As the dust settles from this weekend's mass shooting in Orlando, ties to Connecticut are becoming revealed.

Officials said 49 people were killed by a gunman law enforcement officials said pledged his allegiance to the Islamic state.

As a father in Groton breaths a sigh of relief, Eyewitness News learned that one of the victims was a Torrington woman.

Kimberly Morris, 37, was among the victims, according to a friend of hers. She started working security at the club last week.

"[She was] probably trying to protect people, she was very much a pleaser, a happy person," said Ashley Andersen. "She would do pretty much anything and give you the shirt off her back."

Andersen said she believes that is how Morris lived her last moments. She was killed in the hail of gunfire at the hands of alleged shooter 29-year-old Omar Mateen.

"I'm disgusted that there's people out there in the world that have so much hatred," Andersen said.

Orlando officials have identified 45 of the 49 victims. Andersen said as she watched the chaos and devastation unfold on television, she never imagined that her high school friend was among those who lost their lives.

"I actually didn't even think about it," she said. "I didn't put her in that category with all these acts of violence going on right now." 

Eyewitness News learned that Morris's family left for Orlando Sunday.

Torrington's mayor issued a statement on Monday about what happened.

"This tragedy hit close to home for many Torrington residents upon hearing that one of the victims, 37-year-old Kimberly Morris, known as KJ, grew up in our community. This loss of life, any loss of life, is heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Kimberly Morris, and all others who have been affected by this unspeakable act," Mayor Elinor Carbone said in a statement on Monday. 

Torrington High School basketball coach Michael Fritch said Morris "got along with everybody" and loved to dance and play. 

Fritch first met Morris in 1991, which was her sophomore year and his first year coaching the girl's basketball team. He said Morris was a standout on the championship team.

"Everyday at practice, she worked hard, tried to be first," Fritch said. 

Former teammate Erika Pratt said Morris had a "secret left hand jump shot, turnaround and used that to her advantage." While many were struggling with their identities, Pratt said Morris always knew who she was.

"High school can be tumultuous time, but it didn't seem like that for her ever," Pratt said. "She was very confident about who she was and was comfortable in her own skin always." 

Friends said they often turned to Morris. 

"You were never afraid to be around her or near her and she always made you feel good," Pratt said.

Fritch called Morris a "homebody." 

"She's part of us," Fritch said. 

"It really makes you step back and think about that person, and all the victims and how someone's friend, daughter, son, is no longer with us," Pratt said.

Video of Morris dancing at the gay club Divas have popped up online. 

"She definitely was the same. She was having so much fun," friend Jennifer Ancheff-Bement said. "It was just who she was." 

After working at Divas Nightclub, friends said Morris bounced around the country, settling in the Orlando area. But friends said she was always staying in touch and Sunday's attack struck a sensitive nerve, not just for those who knew Morris personally, but the LGBTQ community in general.

"It makes you think," Ancheff-Bement said. "OK can I go to Pride? Can I go to the clubs? Am I safe?" 

A memorial will be held at Coe Park at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. After the terror, with planned police presence, the LGBTQ community said they want  a safe space and it just happens to be one of Morris' favorite hangouts. 

"It's just coming together and remembering Kim because it's a very scary thing," Ancheff-Bement said.

The invitation for the Torrington vigil is open to the public. While many will be remembering Morris, friends said they want to see everyone in Torrington turn out in a show of love. 

Anyone looking to help the victims of the Pulse shooting, an official GoFundMe page has been set up here.

To see photos of the victims on your mobile device, click here. 

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