MIAMI, USA – The gunman who fatally shot Christina Grimmie, an up-and-coming young singer who once appeared on the popular TV show The Voice, had two handguns and a hunting knife on him at the time of the attack, US police said Saturday.
In a tweet, the Orlando Police Department identified the suspect as Kevin James Loibl, releasing a headshot and saying that he was 27 and from St. Petersburg, Florida.
OPD can confirm 27 year old Kevin James Loibl, suspect who shot Christina Grimmie, is from St Petersburg, FL pic.twitter.com/iN6RUi3VRx— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 11, 2016
Authorities said they believed he traveled from elsewhere in Florida to Orlando, where Grimmie had given a concert, intent on targeting her.
Grimmie, 22, performed late Friday with the group Before You Exit at Orlando’s Plaza Live Theater and stayed on to sign autographs and sell merchandise.
The gunman approached her and opened fire without warning, then fatally shot himself, according to police.
Grimmie was rushed to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, but died of her injuries.
In addition to two handguns and a hunting knife, the shooter was also carrying two loaded gun magazines, police said.
“The suspect traveled to Orlando, apparently, to commit this crime, and then had plans to travel back to where he came from,” Police Chief John Mina told reporters.
Detectives are scrutinizing the suspect’s cell phone and computer as they search for a possible motive.
Guns snuck past guards
Unarmed security guards at the concert conducted bag checks, police said, but failed to discover the shooter’s weapons.
“There are no metal detectors. People are not patted down. They open their bags and authorities look inside those bags for weapons,” Mina said.
Most people at the event were “young kids,” which “isn’t a crowd that you would suspect would be carrying guns,” he added.
About 120 fans were still milling around the theater when the shooting occurred, Mina said.
Authorities said they were trying to determine if the shooter knew Grimmie or was a deranged fan.
The shooting likely adds fuel to the long simmering debate over gun control in the United States, where such weapons were used in more than 11,200 murders in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But past bouts of even more extreme gun violence, including the 2012 killing of 20 school children at an elementary school in Connecticut, have led to little change in a country where the right to bear arms is protected under the second amendment of the US constitution.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has vowed to take on the powerful gun lobby if elected president, while Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has promised “to cherish the Second Amendment.”
‘Lost a beautiful soul’
As word of Grimmie’s shooting and subsequent death spread quickly on social media, fans posted video clips of her performances, including her cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” during a blind audition on The Voice.
A New Jersey native, Grimmie gained notoriety by singing covers of hit songs in popular videos posted on YouTube.
Grimmie, who competed in the sixth season of The Voice in 2014, released her debut EP Find Me in 2011.
“There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul w/ an amazing voice,” the NBC talent show wrote on Twitter.
We are heartbroken. @TheRealGrimmie is a loved member of our family. Our thoughts are with her and her family. #PrayForChristina— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) June 11, 2016
There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice. Our hearts go out to the friends, fans and family of @TheRealGrimmie.— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) June 11, 2016
“My heart is absolutely broken. I miss you Christina,” tweeted pop star Selena Gomez. She included a picture of herself and Grimmie, who was her friend and sometimes backup singer.
My heart is absolutely broken. I miss you Christina pic.twitter.com/KWGwZZlj4t— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) June 11, 2016
Gomez’s stepfather Brian Teefey, who was Grimmie’s longtime manager, opened an account on the GoFundMe crowd sourcing website to raise money for Grimmie’s family.
“Words cannot begin to describe the pain I am feeling,” Teefey told People magazine.
“Christina was like a second daughter to me. All I wanted to do was assist her in achieving her musical dreams while protecting her from the pitfalls associated with the business,” he said.
“I never could have imagined this horrific event being one of the pitfalls needing to be avoided.” – Rappler.com
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