PORTLAND, Ore — Hundreds of people filled the ballroom inside the Smith Memorial Student Union at Portland State University Saturday evening to celebrate the life of Amara Marluke. The 19-year-old music major was shot and killed early Monday morning.
“Mara was a bright, kind girl," said Nya Mbock, the president of Associated Students of Portland State. "I wish I would have had more of an opportunity to know her. I know that she would have been an amazing addition to all of the efforts we have on campus to advocate for students.”
Marluke was celebrated as a shining star on campus, but the news of her death sent shock waves well beyond the university. She had worked with Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District on the Talking Walls mural project.
The district said in a statement: “Amara will forever be part of our TPHRD family. Amara was an incredible young woman, an inspiring community activist, and a treasured friend to many of us at THPRD.”
Police have charged Keenan Harpole with her murder. The 20-year-old freshman is a former Portland State football player. He pleaded not guilty in his court appearance Tuesday.
Marluke's death has rocked the Portland State community. They hope the celebration of life can ease some of the pain.
“I think that it's easy to feel separated as students, and to be able to come together and celebrate her and to be a part of that celebration makes us feel more like a community,” said Mbock.