More than 1,000 mourn at N.J. vigil for Christina Grimmie

The service began with a prayer, during which Christine Grimmie's brother, Evesham Township officials, and friends spoke about their memories and the impact she had on their lives.

Those who knew Christina Grimmie - her fans and friends - remembered her as a selfless, faithful person who always opened her heart to everyone and everything around her.

But it was her brother, Marcus, who best summed up the Marlton native's life Monday night.

"You guys didn't know her like I did," he said. "She loved this town, she loved this state, she loved singing, she loved the Lord, and she loved me. . . . She is in a better place."

About 1,200 people gathered at the Marlton Memorial Sports Complex on Monday evening for a 30-minute candlelight vigil for the 22-year-old singer, who gained a national following through her appearances in 2014 on the NBC singing competition The Voice. Grimmie was shot by a stalker as she signed autographs at a public appearance in Orlando on Friday night. Marcus Grimmie, 23, tackled the suspect immediately after the shooting.

For the vigil, people streamed in, some wearing T-shirts, pins, and posters of Grimmie. All held candles.

Two large photos of Grimmie had been placed by the lectern. Friends and fans stopped to place flowers, to take a photo, or for a moment's tearful reflection.

Dozens of family members arrived, and friends wore matching T-shirts that read, "Team Grimmie Forever."

The service began with a prayer, during which Grimmie's brother, Evesham Township officials, and friends spoke about their memories of Grimmie and about the effect she had on their lives.

"She was one of the greatest selfless people you will ever come across," said Pete Innaurato, a childhood friend. "It's important to remember the type of person that Christina was, who didn't only want to be remembered for her musical career."

"All of the success she had, she never changed," Innaurato said. He then read a passage of lyrics from "Fly" by Celine Dion, a song he said Grimmie loved.

Lauren Longo and Sarah Luebkemann were also childhood friends of Grimmie's. Luebkemann said she met Grimmie in kindergarten at Bethel Baptist Christian School in Cherry Hill.

The trio made YouTube videos in their teens as they performed skits and sang.

Longo and Luebkemann said they believed that Grimmie was now in heaven, and that she was "more alive now than she is here."

The friends read lyrics to the song "This Is Home" by Switchfoot, their favorite band. "I'm gonna call it home. I've got a brand-new mind-set, I can finally see the sun set. I'm gonna call it home," they read in unison.

Grimmie grew up in Evesham, and attended Marlton Middle School and later Cherokee High School through 2010. She moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to join Selena Gomez on tour and advance her own singing career.

Grimmie, who finished third in the 2014 season of The Voice, was living in Sherman Oaks, Calif., at the time of her death.

Orlando police said she was slain by a 27-year-old Florida man, Kevin James Loibl, who did not appear to know her personally. He reportedly shot her point-blank about 10 p.m. as she signed autographs following a performance.

After her brother tackled Loibl, he fatally shot himself. Christina Grimmie died about five hours later at an Orlando hospital.

Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine coached Grimmie on The Voice. Grimmie's brother posted on Facebook Sunday night that Levine called Grimmie's mother and offered to cover all funeral expenses and pay for the mother's flight.

Grimmie's family is also receiving financial support through a GoFundMe page that her manager, Gomez's stepfather, created the day of her death. The page had a $4,000 goal, and had raised more than $125,000 as of Monday evening.

David Stow of the Lenape Regional High School District school board said at Monday's vigil that the district was "shaken and saddened."

Stow said he knew that Grimmie was grounded in faith with an "angelic voice."

Debbie Hamilton, a family friend who attended Bethel Baptist Church with Grimmie, said Grimmie sang at her daughter's wedding in 2013. She brought photos of Grimmie singing that were hanging on her wall at home. "She's just as beautiful inside and out. This is a terrible tragedy," Hamilton said.

The vigil ended with a man playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.

A family friend said that Grimmie's parents were in New Jersey and that the family would make an announcement soon about funeral arrangements.

Contact Erin Serpico at eserpico@philly.com or 856-779-3912.