Editor’s note: This story was originally published on June 14, 2016. PEOPLE is republishing to mark Monday’s one-year anniversary of the Orlando mass shooting, which claimed 49 lives before the gunman’s death.
PEOPLE is paying tribute to the 49 victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by showing their faces on the cover.
The victims came from all walks of life, expecting a night out in a place known for its inclusive spirit. The night ended, instead, in terror — the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. (For a complete list of the victims, with tributes, click here.)
PEOPLE reporters spoke with many of their loved ones, who shared fond memories of lives cut tragically short and harrowing memories of the scene.
Akyra Murray, 18, was a star student-athlete who graduated third in her class and was preparing to go off to college to play basketball. Her mother, Natalie Murray, received a call from Akyra at 2:12 a.m. on that horrible Sunday.
“She was hollering, ‘Mom, I’ve been shot! Please help me, I’m bleeding bad,’ ” Natalie tells PEOPLE.
“I’m like, ‘Baby, just apply pressure, mommy’s on the way.’ And she says, ‘He’s got a gun,’ and then she was screaming and we got disconnected. It was our last conversation.”
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PEOPLE reporters also spoke with survivors of the attack, giving a peek into the heroism that emerged in the midst of tragedy.
Josh McGill, a 26-year-old nursing student, ran out of the club after hearing shots but soon encountered a bloodied victim walking toward him.
“He said, ‘I think I got shot, man.’ He was shot in both arms. I used my shirt to tie up one arm and used his shirt to wrap the other. Then he said something about his back. I look and there’s more blood,” McGill tells PEOPLE.
A police officer asked McGill to help save the man by applying pressure to the wounds he sustained in his back.
“I had to squeeze him as hard as possible,” says McGill. “I was basically bear-hugging him. The cop told me to keep him awake. We said a quick prayer together. I remember him mumbling, ‘Amen.’ ”
• Reporting by MICHELLE TAUBER, STEVE HELLING, ROSE MINUTAGLIO, CHRIS HARRIS, SIOBHAM MORRISSEY, CAITLIN KEATING, HARRIET SOKMENSUER, ELAINE ARADILLAS, CHRISTINE PELISEK, SUSAN KEATING, ALEXANDRA ROCKEY FLEMING, K.C. BAKER, JEFF TRUESDELL and JULIE MAZZIOTTA