Christina Grimmie won over audiences within seconds as she crooned her own rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” on Season 6 of The Voice, making all four judges spin around in their chairs to see where that spectacular talent came from.
Friday night in Orlando, Florida, the 22-year-old’s voice was silenced by an unidentified gunman who fatally shot her while she was signing autographs for fans, before turning the gun on himself.
Several horrified fans witnessed Grimmie’s murder at the Plaza Live, which occurred around 10:30 p.m. and left both the bubbly YouTube and The Voice star and her killer dead. Grimmie was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans at a post-show meet and greet when the man approached and shot her in the head. She was transported to a local hospital in critical condition, where she died from her injuries.
“It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm that Christina has passed and went home to be with the Lord,” her publicist confirmed late Friday night. The shocking news prompted a landslide of grieving remembrances and appreciations of Grimmie across social media, including heartbroken messages from her Voice co-stars and fans.
According to Orlando Police Chief John Mina, the shooter was Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida. They did not provide a possible motive or further background on the gunman. He’d arrived to the meet and greet, where approximately 120 fans lingered following Grimmie’s performance with the band Before You Exit, armed with two loaded handguns, a hunting knife, and more ammunition.
Witnesses and the Orlando Police say Grimmie’s brother Marcus, who sometimes accompanied her on guitar in her online videos, immediately sprang into action when the man opened fire, tackling the assailant before he could potentially harm others in the crowded venue. The killer then shot himself, leaving many questions in his wake.
“[Grimmie’s] brother Marcus is a hero and possibly saved countless other lives,” Mina said in a statement to press. “He is not injured.”
The Loibl family left the following note outside their door in St. Petersburg, Florida:
The killing immediately sparked criticism of security measures on site at the Plaza Live, where there were no metal detectors present. Friday night’s show was guarded by private security but had no official police officers on site.
Singer JoJo, expressing her condolences on Twitter, noted the anxiety that Grimmie’s shooting stirs for many public figures and performers who interact so openly with their fans. “Just heard about @TheRealGrimmie,” she tweeted. “I am completely taken aback and sad. And quite frankly, scared. #restinlovechristina.”
“Like everyone else in the community, the board and staff at the Plaza Live Venue are deeply saddened by the tragic events of Friday evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost as well as those who witnessed and aided in the recovery after this senseless act,” read a statement posted on the Plaza Live Facebook page Saturday afternoon.Grimmie, a petite brunette hailing from Marlton, New Jersey, skyrocketed to YouTube fame years before her audition for The Voice gave her the biggest platform of her budding career. Influenced by contemporary Christian artists as well as vocalists like Christina Aguilera, she began singing at age 6 and playing piano at the age of ten.In 2009, amid the rise of YouTube discoveries like Justin Bieber, she started posting her own cover songs online. It was her duet with fellow YouTuber Sam Tsui, a cover of Nelly’s “Just a Dream,” that shot her to viral superstardom—garnering over 116 million views and counting. Grimmie’s official YouTube channel has 3.2 million subscribers and more than 378 million views to date.
Before wowing the judges in her unforgettable Voice debut, Grimmie had sung backup for Selena Gomez, whose stepfather Brian Teefey signed her as her manager in 2010. In 2011, she released the EP Find Me and performed on the Ellen DeGeneres show and the American Music Awards before moving to Los Angeles the following year.In 2014, after making all four judges on The Voice turn in their chairs, she chose to compete on Levine’s team and finished the season in third place, subsequently signing with Island Records. During her stint, she scored multiple iTunes charting hits and attracted the attention of Lil Wayne, whose song “How To Love” she covered in the Season 6 quarterfinals. Grimmie released her second EP Side A earlier this year. She was scheduled to perform with Before You Exit this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Following her death, manager Teefey started a GoFundMe for Grimmie’s family that’s already raised more than $20,000 in 14 hours.“Words cannot begin to describe the pain I am feeling. I learned this business through the eyes of a father and Christina was like a second daughter to me. All I wanted to do was assist her in achieving her musical dreams while protecting her from the pitfalls associated with the business. I never could have imagined this horrific event being one of the pitfalls needing to be avoided. In Christina’s honor I have created a Go Fund Me page to assist her family in their time of need. As family Mother, Father, and Brother made the ultimate family sacrifice to support Christina on her musical journey. They did nothing but love her and support her as family the best they knew how, the only worry I want them to have at this point is that of recovery.Grimms I love you, and miss you beyond comprehension.”