Remembering the Orlando 49: Jason Benjamin Josaphat

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Remembering the Orlando 49: Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Jason Benjamin Josaphat had the entire world ahead of him.

The 19-year-old was an academic achiever who loved photography and was studying computer science at Valencia College. Born in Fort Lauderdale to Haitian parents, Josaphat attended school in Orlando before moving out of state. He graduated in 2014 from Skyline High School in Arizona and more recently from Southern Technical Institute as a business office specialist.

His friend, Kiara Parham, told the Arizona Republic she had gone to high school with Josaphat, and that he brought her into his group of friends.

"Jason was the loudest," Parham told the Republic. "He was always giggling ... His laugh was unforgettable. He was my right hand."

His obituary said he was known for his "memorable gleaming smile."

"But he was more than just a smile," the obituary read. "He was a son, brother, scholar, a friend and much more with a promising future ahead when he was taken from us."

On June 12, Josaphat died along with 48 others during a mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse. His mother, Myrlande Bébé, said on Facebook that her son died to save Tiara Parker from the shooter while they were trapped in the bathroom.

"Nice cars or nice house, or diamond or anything people would say can't ever, ever bring Jason back," she wrote. "But at the end of the day he is a hero. He is hero by saving that beautiful young woman."

In some of his last Facebook videos, Josaphat is seen dancing and singing in his room.

"This is how I will always remember you," his friend Simone Baptiste wrote under one video. "Full of happiness, laughter and love. You didn't die in vain; everyone who loves you will make sure your life will be celebrated. Rest in peace, Jason. I love you."

– Monivette Cordeiro

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