Temple University community holds vigil for students who died this year

The cousin of Samuel Collington spoke at the gathering.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Temple community gathers for vigil for students' lives lost
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Samuel Collington's cousin Shane, also a Temple student, spoke at the gathering.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hundreds of people united on Temple University's campus Monday night for a vigil in honor of students' lives recently lost.

Prayers, a spoken word poem and music tributes were part of the ceremony to remember the five students who have died this year: "Jimmy" James Peterman, Katherine Kelemen, Matthew Melendez, April Rochester and Samuel Collington.

The vigil, organized by the Temple Student Government, was held at the campus Bell Tower.

Kyle Osborne, who Temple News identified as a political science and communications and social influence double major, and the student government's director of pride and traditions, read the names and biographies of each student.

A moment of silence was held after each.

RELATED: Concerned parents call for increased safety measures on Temple University campus

Katherine Kelemen, a 22-year-old junior, was killed last month in Voorhees Township, New Jersey. Authorities said the body of her father, who was accused of her murder, was discovered in a wooded area the next morning.

Katie Kelemen

Osborne read a statement from Kellerman's roommates who said she was "kind, caring, beautiful soul who did not deserve the injustice she was served. We would like Kat to be remembered for her love of nature, animals, plants, her friendships and her sweet, sweet soul."

Twenty-one-year-old Samuel Collington was shot and killed during an attempted robbery as he returned to his off-campus apartment after Thanksgiving break. The suspect, 17-year-old Latif Williams, turned himself in to police last week.

Samuel Collington
Courtesy: Molly Collington

Samuel Collington's cousin Shane, also a Temple student, spoke at the gathering.

"Sam's humor and intelligence made everyone feel happy and comfortable around him. I will never forget about his contagious smile and lighthearted spirit," Shane said.

"No matter what context you knew Sam, I think that's just a fraction of some of the amazing qualities he displayed. And we need to get justice for Sam."

Collington's murder occurred just days after a teenager, who was not a student, was shot and killed during an armed robbery near campus.

Temple University is responding to the increase in violent crimes around campus by pledging to increase its campus safety force by 50 percent.

"You're looking at filling some 40 openings, giving you a rough estimate," said Campus Safety Services Executive Director Charles Leone.

Some other proposals include improving lighting, and adding cameras and emergency phones around campus.

Hours before the vigil, concerned parents held a rally at the Bell Tower to plead for increased security measures on campus.

According to their obituaries, Matthew Melendez died suddenly on Nov. 23 and Jimmy Peterman passed away on Oct. 31.

At the vigil, Osborne said April Rochester was a freshman from New York.