PRINCESS ANNE, Md.- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has canceled all classes for Wednesday, designating it a "Day of Reflection."
A vigil is being held at 11 a.m. at the performing arts center on campus. Counseling and prayer services will also be offered throughout day.
The UMES community was shaken up last weekend after the stabbing death of one of its students. Police said an argument escalated, and led to the murder of 21-year-old Edmond St. Clair. In the wake of the first murder on campus in 35 years, students are now dealing with another tragedy.
The campus is also coping with news of the apparent suicide of a former UMES student.
Both tragedies were addressed Tuesday, as the community came together, to mourn and heal.
"We are shocked, and pained, and angry and sad," said UMES President, Dr. Juliette Bell.
Some 3,000 students and staff members gathered for a community meeting inside the Hytche Athletic Center Tuesday to remember two lives cut short.
"It's not like you're hearing about it on the news, where it's a random person," said senior Harrison Redd. "It's somebody that you knew, that you had class with, that you went to events with. He was a good friend of mine, so it hit really close to home."
"It's not fair that a bright young man was taken away from us," Dr. Bell said in a speech at the meeting. "It's not fair that Edmond's family and friends have lost a loved one, and we have lost a member of our family."
Those who knew St. Clair describe him as fun-spirited and passionate. He dreamed of becoming a doctor.
And besides the murder of St. Clair, the campus learned Tuesday of the apparent suicide of former student, Dickson Muiruri -- a veteran, who served in the U.S. Marines.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the violence that took the life of Edmond, or the despair that ended the life of Dickson," Dr. Bell told those gathered.
While emotions on campus are still raw, many say Tuesday's campus meeting was the first necessary step in the healing process, by addressing that grief head-on.
"We have to heal," noted UMES Director of Counseling Ron McLean. "We have to start that process and that's part of what we're trying to do today."
The campus said it will do whatever necessary to take care of its students, while expecting them to rise to the occasion.
"Together, we can stop the violence," McLean chanted, as the room joined in.
Monday, May 20 2013 3:25 PM EDT2013-05-20 19:25:46 GMT
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