Christian Singer Christina Grimmie 'Loved the Lord,' Greeted Killer With 'Arms Open Wide'

( [email protected] ) Jun 15, 2016 12:51 PM EDT
Christina Grimmie, the Christian singer who was shot and killed during a meet-and-greet in Orlando, "loved the Lord" and embraced everyone -- even the man who took her life.
Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star Christina Grimmie performs during the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Christina Grimmie, the Christian singer who was shot and killed during a meet-and-greet in Orlando, "loved the Lord" and embraced everyone -- even the man who took her life.

Marcus Grimmie, brother of the popular contestant on NBC's "The Voice," emotionally remembered his sister during a vigil held in her hometown of Evesham, New Jersey.

"She loved this town. She loved the state. She loved singing. She loved the Lord. And she loved me and she was just my baby sister," he told 500 supporters gathered to remember the fallen singer. 

As earlier reported, Christina, 22, died on Saturday after she was shot in an attack by Kevin James Loibl, 27, as she signed autographs after a concert in Orlando, Florida. The suspect fatally shot himself as well, after Grimmie's brother tackled him, according to authorities.

The singer had performed at The Plaza Live theater Friday night, along with the band Before You Exit, when the shooting broke out. She was rushed to a hospital in critical condition and died a few hours later, reports CNN.

Marcus recalled: "The tragedy that took place. It was a free meet and greet post show. I missed the very first glimpse but witnesses say that she was arms open wide. So she had no idea. She treated everybody the same. And it was hard for her because she was introverted," he said.

Marcus also drew attention to the massacre that occurred a day later at the gay nightclub Pulse, where 49 people were killed by gunman and suspected Islamic extremist Omar Mateen.

"So what I really wanted to say real quick, about 4 miles away from where we were staying, there was a huge tragedy to Orlando, the U.S. LGBT community and to the whole world. I mean, 50 people dead. Who knows who's injured, I mean, that's huge. I come home to this. This is ridiculous. ... I have no words," he said.

"Look at these people behind me. I had five people fly out my dad, people bought them plane tickets. Adam Levine paid for Christina's funeral ... these people didn't have that. I'm at a great peace right now. I really am. She's in a better place. So sorry my parents couldn't make it out to this event," he added.

Prior to her death, Grimmie described herself as a "full-on Christian who loves Jesus" and identified the Bible as her favorite book. In her public profiles, she stated Jesus was her "Lord and Savior," and that she sung for Him. Her rendition of the popular hymn "In Christ Alone" - which she referred to as "one of my favorite songs ever" - has garnered over 3.7 million views on YouTube.

 A number of celebrities mourned the loss of the young woman on Twitter, including "The Voice" judges Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton. Pop singer Justin Bieber remembered Grimmie by dedicating his somber piano ballad "Purpose" to her onstage Monday night at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Selena Gomez's stepfather and Grimmie's manager, Brian Teefey, raised over $120,000 for the late singer's family through a GoFundMe page. 

On Monday, Evesham Mayor Randy Brown called Marcus a hero, an acknowledgement that was widely applauded by the gathering.

"We want to thank every single one of you for coming out tonight and helping Marc and the whole family go through what they're going through," Brown said. "Tonight is not just going to be a night where we talk about ... Christina's death but also celebrate her life."

He then urged everyone to follow Christina's spirit.

"It's every parent's nightmare to bury a child. You can shed tears because she is gone or smile because she lived ... (so) do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and live on."