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Police identify St. Petersburg man as killer of singer Christina Grimmie (w/video)

ORLANDO — The gunman who shot and killed a singer who rose to fame after appearing on The Voice traveled to Orlando specifically to attack her, authorities said Saturday.

Police identified the killer as 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl of St. Petersburg.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a earlier news conference that the suspect didn't appear to know Christina Grimmie personally. He may have been a deranged fan, although the motive was still unknown.

Grimmie was shot to death after giving a concert in Orlando on Friday night. She died early Saturday.

Loibl did not have any prior criminal record, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Police said he was armed with two guns, ammunition and a hunting knife.

His family posted a brief notice on the door of their St. Petersburg home Saturday evening, as the news arose and reporters arrived in the neighborhood. It read, "Deepest sorrow for lost to the family, friends & fans of the very talented, loving Christina Grimmie. No other comments."

Neighbor Dan Erickson, 38, lives two houses from the family. He said he rarely saw Loibl, and wasn't aware of the shooting until the news media arrived.

He said the father was "very nice. When a tree fell down on my house, he was the first person to come over and make sure we were okay."

 

VIDEO: Police identify Christina Grimmie's killer

 

Grimmie, a 22-year-old singer from New Jersey, finished third during season six of NBC's The Voice in 2014, competing on the team of Maroon 5 star Adam Levine. She began amassing a following on YouTube as a teenager, gripping online viewers with her powerful renditions of hit songs. Her videos on YouTube have garnered millions of views.

She had performed with the band Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando. The concert ended around 10 p.m., and Grimmie was shot as she signed autographs for fans at a merchandise table.

Grimmie's brother immediately tackled the gunman, who then shot and killed himself during the struggle, police said.

Mina said it was "unknown what (Loibl's) plans were for after killing Christina, but very heroic actions by Marcus Grimmie to jump in could have prevented loss of life there."

About 120 people were in the theater at the time of the shooting. No other injuries were reported. The theater has no metal detectors, but does employ security guards to check peoples' bags for weapons, Mina said.

He said Orlando police would lead the investigation and would search Loibl's computer and phone for evidence.

"I think it's important to note the type of crowd that attends this," Mina said. "We're talking about young kids. This isn't a crowd that you would expect would be carrying a gun to a venue like this."

Josh Call was selling vegan hot dogs outside the venue when he heard four or five gunshots.

"It was quick like pow, pow, pow, pow," he told the Orlando Sentinel.

After waiting a few minutes, Call said, he went inside where he saw a woman with blood coming from her head. He said he also saw a man was on the floor in a pool of blood, his face was completely disfigured.

"It was horrifying," Call told the Sentinel.

Grimmie had posted a video of herself shortly before the concert was scheduled to begin, encouraging fans to come see her perform.

 

Levine posted a photo of himself with Grimmie on Instagram, commenting before her death was confirmed: "I'm sad, shocked and confused. We love you so much Grimmie. We are all praying hard that you can pull through this ... this just isn't fair."

When reports of Grimmie's death first surfaced, #PrayforChristina was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. After her death was confirmed, #RIPChristina became the top trending hashtag as Grimmie's fans took to social media to express an outpouring of grief.

The Voice paid tribute to Grimmie on its official Twitter page: "There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice."

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2014 that Grimmie moved to Los Angeles in 2012 after joining Selena Gomez on tour to focus on her singing career.

"I'm done being surprised by cool things she does. She's very talented and she's worked incredibly hard — it's a dangerous combination," her brother Mark Grimmie told the newspaper at the time.

Information from Times staff writers Anthony Cormier and Jeff Solochek was used in this report, which also includes information from the Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel.

Police identify St. Petersburg man as killer of singer Christina Grimmie (w/video) 06/11/16 [Last modified: Saturday, June 11, 2016 9:52pm]
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