A public memorial service for murdered teenager Letisha Reimer, who was stabbed to death this week at her high school in Abbotsford, is now underway.
It’s being hosted at the South Abbotsford Church, which Reimer attended and where she was friends with lead pastor Matt Ewert.
He says the tragedy hit close to home for everyone.
“I first got the news from my wife saying, ‘she’s texting from inside the school and saying “we’re in lockdown.”‘ And obviously my wife is distraught when she saw all of the emergency vehicles and everything. We knew she was okay, but yeah and then the phone rings and all of a sudden you realize, it wasn’t my daughter but it’s about as close to home as it can get without it being that.”
WATCH: South Abbotsford Church memorial to Letisha Reimer
Ewert says Letisha had a zest and zeal for life like no other, and that taking her service today is almost surreal.
“I was looking through my phone, trying to find pictures of Letisha, because I knew I had taken some from one of our recent retreats, and I found two within my camera roll, but in both of them everyone’s looking at the camera, smiling. Letisha’s still got her head and hands in the ground, and she’s working; she’s doing whatever she was doing, because that was Letisha. She was just into what she was doing.” He said. “But I know that if she had turned and looked at me, there would have been a big grin on her face.”
Ewert says the church seats roughly 600, but many more are expected.
The service today does not include Letisha’s family, but mainly her church and school friends instead, and another service is planned for later today.
Meanwhile, there is a meeting planned this evening for parents of students at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Meanwhile there has been a massive outpouring of grief for the family in the wake of the attack.
A memorial outside Abbotsford Secondary continues to grow, with classes cancelled until Monday.
A crowdfunding campaign set up to help the grieving Reimer family has now topped $40,000.
Abbotsford’s local Yuk Yuk’s comedy club will also be raising money for Letisha’s family, as well as that of her 14-year-old friend who was injured in the double stabbing.
Who is Gabriel Klein?
Investigators are still in the process of piecing together who 21-year-old Gabriel Klein is, and what led up to the attack.
Police believe Klein, of no fixed address, came from Alberta and had been in the Vancouver area since around February, but still know little else about him.
Global News reports he had been staying at Abbotsford’s Riverside Shelter, where he had stormed out just hours before the attack after an apparent angry phone call with his mother.
Covenant House in Vancouver has also confirmed a stay by Klein, and says it is cooperating with police.
Anyone who has had contact with Klein is urged to contact police.