Grieving students gather for vigil on campus | News Coverage from USA

Grieving students gather for vigil on campus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Reeling from a deadly campus shooting just one day ago, thousands of University of North Carolina at Charlotte students attended a vigil Wednesday night at the university’s Halton Arena.

They heard words of acknowledgment, encouragement and hope.

“The event that occurred on our campus yesterday was nothing but a horrific tragedy,” said senior Kristine Slade, who helped organize the vigil. “However, have strength in knowing that as a community we will proceed and we will get through this event.”

Student body President Chandler Crean and university Chancellor Philip Dubois also addressed the crowd, a gathering that developed in stark contrast to a campus that had been largely empty throughout the day.

“Yesterday was our last day of classes. We woke up with excitement and eagerness to wrap up this academic year,” Crean said. “Sadly, that was taken from us.”

More: University of North Carolina at Charlotte shooting: What We Know Now

Crean told the crowd that ‘”no one is going through this alone,” and he urged students to lift each other up.

“Yesterday’s tragedy was a complete shock and the saddest day in UNC Charlotte history. Please know that this does not stop here. It cannot stop here,” he said. “No matter what happens, we will keep moving forward.”

More: Victim tried to stop UNC Charlotte gunman, police say.

Dubois said the coming “days, weeks and months will test our collective strength.”

“UNC Charlotte cannot and will not be defined by this tragedy,” he said. “We must be defined by how we respond to it. We will emerge united and stronger.”

After leaving the arena, hundreds gathered at the Star Quad to light candles. A student choral group sang. Varying stages of shared emotion could be seen in diverse faces.

Two students – 21-year-old Riley Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Parlier – were killed and four others were wounded Tuesday when a gunman identified by authorities as a former student opened fire in a classroom in the Kennedy building, authorities said.

Howell has been called a hero for knocking down the gunman.

Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter: @KirkBrown_AIM



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