More than 100 students and members of the University of Maryland, College Park community attended a tear-filled ceremony Tuesday night to mourn Stephen Rane, a 22-year-old student who classmates and friends remembered as a wisecracking, kind-hearted young man.
Rane was killed early in the morning by his roommate outside his home in a neighborhood near the campus, police said. Police say Dayvon M. Green, a graduate student, killed himself after shooting Rane and another roommate, who is expected to survive.
Rane, a senior studying English, according to university officials, graduated from Centennial High School in Ellicott City in 2009. Principal Carl S. Perkins recalled Rane "as a quiet, respectful student who related well with teachers and peers."
At the vigil at the university chapel, students who knew Rane described him as charming, funny and light-hearted.
"He didn't stress out about the little things," said Emily Makhlous, a 21-year-old civil engineering student from Reisterstown, who had a technical writing class with him last fall. "Now when I'm stressed out, I'll always think of him."
She and other students wrote letters to Rane's parents Tuesday. She said she wrote that their son "didn't die in vain and he really helped people, including a really high-strung engineering major."
Rane's mother, Karen Rane, is a member of the research staff in the university's entomology department, as is her husband, Gerald Brust.
Rane worked at a Game Stop store in College Park, where a man who answered the phone declined to comment.
Evan Morsell, 21, a senior from Calvert County and friend, said Rane was a kind person who looked out for others. Morsell said he heard shots from the Oakland Hall dorm.
"When I found out it was Stephen, it was a terrible feeling," Morsell said.
"He was quiet, unassuming and witty. He brightened everyone's day," said Rus VanWestervelt, an English teacher at Centennial and adviser for the magazine Rane helped edit. "He was a really remarkable kid. The world needs more people like him, not fewer. ... Everyone loved him."
Chris Sanders, a guidance counselor at Centennial, said Rane was interested in music and writing, and "took school very seriously."
"He represented Centennial very well during his time here," he said.
Rane transferred to Centennial between his sophomore and junior years, when his family moved from Indiana, said Emma Chang, a College Park senior studying biology. She said he immediately struck her as "the funny kid in class."
"He always knew how to bring a smile to people's faces," she said. "He was a goofball for sure. His sense of humor was so wacky and unique. You couldn't help but fall in love with his charisma."
Chang recalled the speech Rane gave at their Centennial senior night, how he said he had come to call Maryland home, and how "warm and fuzzy" that speech made everyone feel. When speaking of Rane, she used the present tense.
"It hasn't set in," she said.
Earlier in the day, it was the use of past tense that told Abigail Barenblitt that something was wrong.
"A friend came up to me and said, 'You knew Stephen, right?'" said Barenblitt, a senior environmental science and policy major and 2009 Centennial graduate. "I thought it was a joke."
Beyond Rane's wisecracks and "wonderful sense of humor," Barenblitt said, she would remember him as the kindest person she has ever met.
"I know people always say that when someone dies, but it's true," she said. "He was the most genuine, kind-hearted person I knew."
Baltimore Sun reporters Carrie Wells and Alison Matas contributed to this article.