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PSU students and staff mourn Amara Marluke, killed in shooting near campus

Amara Marluke was found dead Monday morning. The suspected shooter was arrested Monday afternoon near Bend. He's also a PSU student and former football player.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The woman killed in a shooting on the Portland State University campus early Monday morning has been identified as Amara Marluke, a 19-year-old PSU student described as an artist and activist. Portland police said another student is a suspect in the shooting.

An autopsy confirmed Marluke died from gunshot wounds, and her death has been ruled a homicide, police said.

The suspect, 20-year-old Keenan Harpole, surrendered himself to authorities in Deschutes County at a property on Homestead Way between Bend and La Pine, police announced on Monday afternoon. The university confirmed that Harpole was a first-year student and member of the PSU football team but is no longer on the team. He attended Mountain View High School in Bend. 

The sheriff's office transported Harpole back to Portland to be booked at the Multnomah County jail for second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon. He's expected to make his first appearance in court on Tuesday afternoon. 

Around 1 a.m. Monday, Central Precinct police officers were dispatched to a report of a shooting near the intersection of Southwest College Street and Southwest 6th Avenue. Officers arrived and found Marluke dead. 

No other details are yet available on what led up to the shooting.

"I am profoundly affected by the sheer tragedy of this loss," said Portland State University President Stephen Percy. "My heart breaks for Amara’s family and for everyone who knew her. I offer my deepest sympathies. We will work together as a campus community to heal."

Bright Alozie, a professor of Black Studies at PSU, was one of Marluke's teachers. He said that she stood out as a student — passionate about being a voice for change. 

"She was an executive at the Black Students' Union, and she really wanted to fight genuinely for racial equity, for more inclusion, for more diversity. She was dedicated to the cause," Alozie said. "She didn't just practice what she believed in — she lived by it."

At Harpole's arraignment on Tuesday, Marluke's family contributed a statement that was read in court.

"To say that Amara was the light of our life would not begin to do her justice. She was an activist who worked to support those who couldn't speak for themselves," her family said. "She had a rough start to her own life, lived through the years of the foster system, and somehow still had endless capacity to love and to help others. She touched our lives and those of so many others. Her dedication to her family and friends was unwavering. That she would fall victim to a senseless and violent death is unimaginable."

Marluke's aunt, Melanie Hendrickson, urged the court not to let Harpole out on conditional release — asking that her family be granted the safety and security "to know this man is behind bars."

Harpole entered an initial plea of not guilty. Court documents indicate that he was not granted bail.

The incident is the latest in a long series of shooting deaths in Portland so far this year, continuing a recent trend closely linked to the city's gun violence epidemic.

There were 90 homicides in Portland last year, coupled with a surge in gun violence with more than 1,200 shootings by the end of the year, compared with fewer than 400 shootings in 2019. Most of the homicide victims were killed by someone with a gun.

A GoFundMe page is raising funds to help Maruke's family.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that the suspect attended Mountain View High School in Vancouver, Wash. 

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