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Memorial held for students killed in College Park murder-suicide

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – There were prayers, songs and reassuring words at a memorial gathering Tuesday night at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The event, held at Memorial Chapel, was organized in the wake of Tuesday’s early morning shootings that left two students dead and third injured.

“Our campus mourns tonight. Those directly touched by this tragedy hurt the most, but all of us are deeply shocked and saddened,” University President Dr. Wallace Loh told the audience of more than 100 people.

“The telephone call that woke me up this morning will keep me wakeful for many nights,” he added.

Loh offered condolences to the families of the shooting victims and said the University family will mourn and heal together.

“I urge you to seek help if you need it. Share your grief. Speak up if you see something troubling,” he said.

Without being specific, Loh also said changes will come at the university as a result of the shootings.

“There are lessons to be learned, policy questions to be discussed and changes to be made. When our shock is dimmed we will work together as a community to see that all these appropriate acts are taken. We will not forget. We will act.”

The event also included speeches by student body leaders.

“Sadly in the short time that it has been with us, 2013 has already been filled with news of violent crimes affecting students,” said David Colon-Cabrera, President of Graduate Student Government.

“These occurrences seem to have become so commonplace that we run the risk of reacting with nonchalance when violence happens far away, which is a sad state of affairs. And yet, this event is not foreign to us this time. It happened in our home. This home.”

“I didn’t know any of the victims involved, but this has changed me,” said Student Government Association President Samantha Zwerling.

She said she felt overwhelmed and scared after the shootings.

“I come here to tell you that it’s okay not to be okay, and that sometimes we must lean on each other when we experience the (inexplicable),” said Zwerling.

“Asking for help is a sign of strength and it makes our entire community stronger. Talk to your friends, talk to your families, talk to the counseling services on campus like the Help Center, Counseling Center, and Mental Health Services. These are all parts of our community that are here to help. But this, here in this room tonight, this is the first step towards healing and it doesn’t leave once we leave this room,” she said.

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