Former Hawaii resident among those killed in Orlando shooting

Former Hawaii Resident Among the Dead
(Image: Hulas Bar and Lei Stand)
(Image: Hulas Bar and Lei Stand)

ORLANDO, Florida (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends are remembering a former Hawaii resident killed in the Orlando shooting at a gay nightclub as outgoing, funny and warm.

Kimberly "KJ" Morris was a bouncer at the Pulse nightclub, where the shooting happened early Sunday, according to the Orlando-Sentinel newspaper.

The 37-year-old had moved to Orlando from Hawaii just two months ago to help her mother and grandmother. Friends said she lived in Hawaii from the time she finished college.

"It was hard. It was a very hard reality that something so far away was still so very close to home," her Hawaii friend Keila Tolbert said.

She managed a Verizon store in Hawaii.

"She was a very good leader, a very good role model," said Chad Shishido, her former coworker at Verizon.

Morris, who was born in Connecticut, was one of 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in American history.

She attended Post University in Waterbury, Conn., where she earned a bachelor's of science degree and played basketball. In a statement, the university said Morris was "an active, vibrant student-athlete and leader."

Friend Kourtney Baltazar said at a vigil at Honolulu Hale on Sunday night that Morris was "the most loving person."

"She never had a bad thing to say about anyone," she told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "If you came to her after a bad day, she'd find some way to cheer you up."

In a post on Facebook, Hula's Bar and Lei Stand in Waikiki said Morris was a regular visitor and will be missed.

"Our sincerest condolences to her ohana and the entire community at Pulse," the club said.

Morris' ex-girlfriend told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "excited" to work at Pulse and to be involved in the city's LGBT community.

She started at the club just a week ago, a friend told WSFB.

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

In posts on social media, friends said Morris was entertaining and funny. Many posted remembrances on her Facebook page.

"We lost an awesome soul this week," one friend said. Another wrote, "The world has lost a special person."

Diva's, a Northhampton, Mass. club where Morris was a well known drag performer, said on Facebook: "We will always remember her smile and her amazing way she lit up the stage in her performances."

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