A Portland State University student gunned down near campus was a talented musician and activist who was “one of the good people,” said one of his devastated professors.
Amara Marluke, 19-year-old aspiring singer, music producer and rising student leader, was an exceptional young woman whose life was needlessly cut short by gun violence, assistant professor of black studies Bright Alozie told KOIN.
“Why do good people leave?” Alozie said. “You know, she was one of the good people. She was loved, and I mean it when I say that.
A former school football player, Keenan Harpole, 20, was charged in the shooting after turning himself in to police. He was charged with second degree murder, domestic violence and unlawful use of a weapon.
It’s unclear how Marluke and his alleged killer knew each other, according to court records cited by The Oregonian.
Alozie said Marluke’s passion “for fairness, for justice, for change” was evident from the moment he met her. He was upset when university officials identified the freshman as Monday’s victim.
“And it really broke my heart, when I found out she was the person,” Alozie said. “I saw her full of enthusiasm and she had a really bright future. And look what happened.
Marluke also served as co-chair of PSU’s Black Student Union and worked to bring about positive change on and around campus, Alozie said.
“I saw her actively involved, actively seeking the welfare of others, putting others before herself,” he said.
Marluke is also remembered for his “enormous artistic potential” and musical talent that was evident to everyone at PSU, music and drama school principal Bonnie Miksch said in a statement Tuesday.
“Amara brought her passionate commitment to social justice to her artistic practice, using her music as a vehicle for her activism and the Black Lives Matter movement,” Miksch said. “She understood the power of music to heal, transform and inspire a hurting world, and she laid the foundation for a career that would allow her to realize her dreams.”
PSU President Stephen Percy said Marluke’s tragic death was mourned by the whole campus as he sent his condolences to the scholarship student’s broken family.
“We are so saddened by this horrible event,” Percy said in a video statement. “At a time like this, a president does not have the full words or ability to express the grief, sadness and bereavement that unfolds over the loss of this incredible student.”
Harpole, who remains jailed without bond on Wednesday, has no prior arrests or convictions in Oregon, according to court records cited by The Oregonian.
The former PSU running back pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance on Tuesday. He is due back in front of a judge next week, KOIN reported. It is unclear whether he has hired a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.