A Portland State University student shot dead near campus was a talented musician and activist who was “one of the good people,” one of her devastated professors said.
Amara Marluke, a 19-year-old aspiring singer, music producer and rising student leader, was an exceptional young woman whose life was needlessly cut short by gun violence, assistant professor of black studies Bright Alozie told KOIN.
“Why do the good people just go?” Alozie said. “You know, she was one of the good people. She was beloved, and I mean it when I say that.”
A former football player at the school, Keenan Harpole, 20, has been charged in the shooting after he surrendered to police. He was charged with second-degree murder, domestic violence and unlawful use of a weapon.
It’s unclear how Marluke and her suspected killer knew each other, according to court records cited by The Oregonian.
Alozie said Marluke’s passion “for equity, for justice, for change” was readily apparent from the instant he met her. He was shattered when university officials identified the first-year student as Monday’s victim.
“And it really broke my heart, when I learned that she was the person,” Alozie said. “I saw her full of life enthusiasm, and she had a really bright future. And look what happened.”
Marluke also served as the co-president of PSU’s Black Student Union and worked to make positive change on and around the campus, Alozie said.
“I saw her actively involved, actively seeking the welfare of others, putting others ahead of herself,” he said.
Marluke was also remembered for her “enormous artistic potential” and musical talent that was evident to everyone at PSU, School of Music & Theater director Bonnie Miksch said in a statement Tuesday.
“Amara brought her passionate commitment to social justice to her art practice, using her music as a vehicle for her activism and the movement for black lives,” Miksch said. “She understood the power of music to heal, transform and inspire a hurting world, and she was building the foundation of a career that would allow her to achieve her dreams.”
PSU president Stephen Percy said Marluke’s tragic death is being mourned by the entire campus as he sent his condolences to the scholarship student’s shattered family.
“We are so saddened about this horrific event,” Percy said in a video statement. “At a moment like this, a president doesn’t have the full words or capacity to express the heartbreak, the sadness and the mourning that’s taking place at the loss of this amazing student.”
Harpole, who remains jailed without bond Wednesday, does not have prior arrests or convictions in Oregon, according to court records cited by The Oregonian.
The former PSU running back pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance Tuesday. He’s due back before a judge next week, KOIN reported. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney who could comment on his behalf.