By Jamie Leary
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds gathered at Dekovened Park in Centennial on Monday to remember Colorado State University student Savannah McNealy, who was killed in a shooting in Fort Collins last week.
“Savannah was probably the most joyful person I’ve ever known in my life,” said Melissa Cox, a family friend.
McNealy’s father choked back tears as he spoke about his daughter. He, with his wife and another daughter with him, told the large crowd he refuses to focus on the tragedy that took her life, but instead all she had accomplished.
“I don’t think she’d be satisfied if there were people in mourning. She lived life and I think that’s what she wants all of us to do,” said Cox.
Cox spoke on behalf of the family who told media they were not yet ready to speak on camera.
“Even though it doesn’t make sense they know there’s a purpose, and I think they’ll look forward to finding that,” said Cox, “You know I think we’re all still in shock. The healing is still to come.”
Those who gathered released 100 balloons in McNealy’s memory. They said the bright colors represented her bright personality.
“Savannah loved color. The rainbow was her inspiration. She was an artist so I believe the balloons signify just the brightness that comes from within,” said Cox.
McNealy, 22, and Tristian Kemp, 26, were killed by gunman Michael Zamora, 30. McNealy’s friend was also shot, but not killed.
According to Fort Collins Police, the four involved were socializing prior to the shooting. Staff at Colorado State University said McNealy was out celebrating her birthday before she was killed.
McNealy was majoring in arts and would have graduated in December.
The shooting happened just before 2 a.m. at the Sunstone Apartments on City Park Avenue, just a few blocks from campus.
Those living in the complex and nearby told CBS4 they heard nearly a dozen gunshots and then heard screams for help.
When Fort Collins Police Department officers arrived, they found four people had been shot.
Three people died — including McNealy and the suspected shooter.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.