SALT LAKE CITY — While a man wanted in connection with the shooting death of a University of Utah student Monday night turned himself in to police Tuesday, many expressed their condolences to family of the student after he was identified earlier in the day.
ChenWei Guo, 23, was a pre-computer science major “with a promising future.” Guo was a peer advisor for the International Students and Scholar Services Team, according to the team’s webpage.
A bio on the page notes Guo was born in Beijing but had lived in many places before coming to the U.S. in 2012. Guo liked to have adventures like skydiving, skiing and horseback riding, according to the webpage. He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Utah Provo Mission and also served as a volunteer interpreter for the Chuch, LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
“He served his mission in Provo on this campus where he touched many people here,” said Brian Gomez, speaking on BYU’s campus. Both Gomez and his wife, Wen Nikki Gomez, were friends with Guo, who introduced both Brian and Wen to each other in 2016. “It’s not just us that are feeling this today, it is hundreds, thousands."
“We wouldn’t be us if it weren’t for him," he adds.
The couple described him as humble and funny. They said he loved the Utah Jazz, in addition to the traveling. They said his mother and father visited Salt Lake over the summer where the family was sealed together in an LDS temple, a ceremony that church members believe allows families to have continued relationships after death.
“The bright spot of this is that just happened. He has his family, he has God and that can’t be forgotten,” Brian added.
Others posted to Guo’s Facebook page with tributes.
“It was a privilege to have been able to serve with such an incredible warrior. I recall every district training meeting, you never failed to fill us with the spirit and laughter,” one person wrote.
“ChenWei Guo is the kindest and the most reliable friend I have ever had. I still can’t believe this happened to him! I’ll always remember his love for the Lord and the people around him. His smile and his positive attitude are so contagious,” another wrote.
Others who knew him posted to Twitter.
Worked with ChenWei. Kindest human you’ll ever meet. This hits so close to home. Sending prayers to his family and friends! My heart is breaking. 🙏🏼🙏🏼😭 https://t.co/pRxBJlwO5E— Carra McManamon (@curramac22) October 31, 2017
At the University of Utah, few students were seen walking around the campus Tuesday after classes were canceled for the day. Students told KSL it was difficult Monday night not knowing what was going on throughout most of the night and were saddened by the death of one of their own.
"The community is definitely coming together and kind of watching out for each other, giving each other a little bit more support," said Dorien Butter, a student at the university.
A student gathering was being planned for students at the Union Ballroom Tuesday evening, according to the Associated Student of the University of Utah.
The university was providing counselors for grieving students at the Mindfulness Center, located in Room 344 in the Student Services Building, as well as at the University Counseling Center and the Women's Resource Center.
The Fine Arts Museum was also open for grieving Tuesday, the university said.
Several local officials and even university officials chimed in, as well. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert mourned Guo’s death in a Twitter post.
Sen. Mike Lee, through a statement issued by his spokesman, also sympathized with Guo's family.
“Sen. Lee is grief-stricken by the loss of University of Utah student ChenWei Guo and is grateful to law enforcement for capturing the suspect,” Lee's spokesman, Conn Carroll, said.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski also expressed her condolences.
“ChenWei had come to Salt Lake City from China to learn, grow, and find opportunity. Our hearts ache for his family and friends and our prayers are with them and all the students and staff of the University of Utah,” she wrote in the post.
We're absolutely heart-stricken by the loss of student ChenWei Guo. He was "extraordinarily outgoing, creative, smart & extremely engaged." pic.twitter.com/cOqkRzu91t— University of Utah (@UUtah) October 31, 2017
On behalf of the entire Utah Football Family, our hearts go out to the friends and family of ChenWei Guo.— Kyle Whittingham (@UtahCoachWhitt) October 31, 2017
Other reactions to the shooting from the political world included statements posted to the Salt Lake County GOP's Twitter account questioning how a convicted felon was able to obtain a firearm.
"This young man is dead because an out-of-state felon illegally obtained a firearm and came to our state. None of this is OK," read a post Tuesday morning by @slcogop that included a photo of the victim as an LDS missionary.
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche, Caitlin Burchill, Sean Moody