ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The gunman who shot and killed a singer who rose to fame after appearing on “The Voice” traveled to Orlando specifically to attack her, authorities said Saturday.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a news conference that the suspect, identified as a 21-year-old white male, didn’t appear to know Christina Grimmie personally. He may have been a deranged fan, although the motive was still unknown.
Grimmie was shot to death after giving a concert in Orlando on Friday night. She died early Saturday.
The 22-year-old singer from New Jersey finished third during season six of NBC’s “The Voice” in 2014, competing on the team of Maroon 5 star Adam Levine. She began amassing a following on YouTube as a teenager, gripping online viewers with her powerful renditions of hit songs. Her videos on YouTube have garnered millions of views.
In an earlier statement, police said Grimmie had performed with the band Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando. The concert ended around 10 p.m., and Grimmie was shot as she signed autographs for fans at a merchandise table.
Grimmie’s brother immediately tackled the gunman, who then shot and killed himself during the struggle, police said. They credited the singer’s brother with preventing the gunman from hurting others.
Sgt. Wanda Miglio said that about 60 to 100 people were in attendance, though only a handful remained when the shooting happened.
Miglio said she did not know what security was like at the venue, or how the shooter got two guns inside. She also said she did not know if off-duty officers were working the concert.
“It was just a casual event,” she said.
Grimmie had posted a video of herself shortly before the concert was scheduled to begin, encouraging fans to come see her perform.
Levine posted a photo of himself with Grimmie on Instagram, commenting before her death was confirmed: “I’m sad, shocked and confused. We love you so much Grimmie. We are all praying hard that you can pull through this … this just isn’t fair.”
When reports of Grimmie’s death first surfaced, #PrayforChristina was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. After her death was confirmed, #RIPChristina became the top trending hashtag as Grimmie’s fans took to social media to express an outpouring of grief.
“The Voice” paid tribute to Grimmie on its official Twitter page: “There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2014 that Grimmie moved to Los Angeles in 2012 after joining Selena Gomez on tour to focus on her singing career.
“I’m done being surprised by cool things she does. She’s very talented and she’s worked incredibly hard — it’s a dangerous combination,” her brother Mark Grimmie told the newspaper at the time.