Kimberly "KJ" Morris, 37, moved to Orlando months ago and worked at Pulse as a bouncer, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
"She was so excited," ex-girlfriend Starr Shelton told the newspaper. "She'd just started working there and told me how she was thrilled to get more involved in the LGBT community there."
Narvell Benning met Morris when they were in college at Post University, where they both played basketball.
"I can't think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face," Benning told the Sentinel. "I'm so thankful of the good memories I have of her."
Liz Lamoureux told The Associated Press in a statement that Morris was one of her sister's best friends and a true friend to her entire family: "What did KJ die for? Being gay and going to work? It just makes no sense — her life amounts to so much more than that."