Remembering Christina Grimmie
Grimmie, who was raised in Evesham and went to Cherokee High School, left Burlington County in 2012 and went to southern California to hasten her singing career.
People who came to pay their last respects to the growing pop star were greeted by the familiar voice of Grimmie herself as she sang and played the keyboard on two video screens above the phase of the South Jersey church where she regularly worshiped.
The songs were about love and Christian redemption — the same two motifs of the service where friends, family, and other supporters heard those closest to Grimmie recount their memories of the vocalist and her religion and love of Jesus above all else.
Thousands of supporters and friends said tearful goodbyes Friday to Grimmie, a growing pop star from South Jersey who was murdered by a stranger a week past while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando, Florida.
Mourners arrived in a steady flow through the entire day during a five-hour visitation for the fans that preceded an inspirational, emotional memorial service at Fellowship Alliance Chapel in Medford.
It was Grimmie’s precious voice that started the memorial service: a record of her performing “In Christ Alone,” which senior chapel pastor Marty Berglund said that song was “one of her favorites.”
At the service, Grimmie’s tearful mother of Christina, Tina, had one question about the passing of her 22-year old daughter: Asking “Why?”
Her mom, who’s fighting cancer, said she was not mad about the disaster but declared she isn’t powerful. “I tell you I ‘m poor … and declare my reliance on Jesus Christ.”
Berglund had an answer about the why: God permits human beings to make choices. Some make “terrible choices,” he said, referring to the gunman, but Grimmie selected Christ and now has eternal life.
Grimmie’s dad, Bud, said: “There’s this enormous hole in my own heart that is never going to go away, but God is larger compared to the hole.”
He said he understands what happened and he will see her again in heaven. “She’s way better off now. She isn’t going to be hurt anymore … (and) God’s strategy surpasses my strategy.
“I can not even plan dinner,” he joked. His wife interjected, “I understand you can not!” in only one of a number of lighter moments that prompted crowd laughter during the almost 90-minute service.
Grimmie’s brother Marcus, who watched the homicide, had just several words at Friday’s service.
“When the gunman came, her arms were open to him,” he said. “Her arms were open on a regular basis. All I will say is thank God for the mark she left on this world. It is increasingly more clear to me now than before.”
Orlando authorities identified her killer as Kevin James Loibl, 27 years old, from St. Petersburg, Florida, who was waiting in the autograph line to see Grimmie after the show that night. Authorities haven’t revealed a motive for the shooting, but authorities described Loibl as perhaps a deranged fanatic.
Promptly after shooting Grimmie several times, Loibl was handled by her brother, Marcus, 23, who frequently accompanied her on every tour; the stranger gunman shot and killed himself during the fight. Authorities said Marcus Grimmie possibly saved other lives with his heroic act.
Loibl brought two pistols, two loaded magazines and a hunting knife with him into the building. He did not have a criminal record, nor did he have a license for firearms. Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Wanda Miglio said this week she’d no upgrades to release about the investigation. An autopsy report will not be made accessible.