The online community reacted with horror and heartbreak over the weekend when Christina Grimmie — a 22-year-old songstress who rose to fame after posting YouTube cover videos in 2009 — was fatally shot at a meet-and-greet after a concert on Friday evening in Orlando, Fla.
As the assault marks the first time that a YouTube creator has been killed during a meet-up with fans, the incident served as a harrowing wake-up call for many within the community. “My first email was to our security team at VidCon,” tweeted co-founder and organizer Hank Green. “We had already increased security plans from last year but are reviewing now.”
In light of the incident — as well as yet another shooting at a gay bar in Orlando early Sunday morning that claimed 50 lives and marks the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — the YouTube star Tyler Oakley made the difficult decision to postpone a book signing event. “I want so badly to just be brave,” he tweeted, “but this weekend has made me so scared. Meet-and-greets after a tour stop? Gay bars during Pride Month?” He explained in a lengthier note that he needed time to grieve. “I just won’t be able to give you the experience you deserve.”
Others expressed their grief in YouTube videos. “This has always been a possibility. It’s happened before people became famous on the Internet,” commentator Phil DeFranco said of the senseless violence. “But what’s the alternative — to not do? To not go? To cower down in fear? No…That’s when bad wins.” Instead, DeFranco encouraged viewers to get out into the world in service of a greater good — much in the same way that Grimmie shared her gifts.
“How can a country that gets it right in so many ways get is so very wrong on gun control?” added Michael Buckley.
YouTube itself paid tribute to Grimmie over the weekend, sharing a playlist that showcased her “soulful covers and infectious personality,” while a GoFundMe page created by Grimmie’s manager in the wake of the loss to support her family — who “made the ultimate family sacrifice to support Christina on her musical journey” — has already raised a staggering $125,000.
Here are some more expressions of grief from the YouTube community at large:
— Kandee Johnson (@kandeejohnson) June 11, 2016
my heart is broken. I can’t even begin to express how devastated I am. rest in peace you amazing beautiful gifted girl. I love u so much. — Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) June 11, 2016
At a loss for words and absolutely sick to my stomach. So lucky to have had a friend so purely good and impossibly talented. #RIPChristina
— Sam Tsui (@SamuelTsui) June 11, 2016
So shocked, saddened & angry to hear about Christina Grimmie. What a tragic loss 😔 my thoughts are with her family, friends and fans ❤️ — Zoë (@Zoella) June 11, 2016
— Felix Kjellberg (@pewdiepie) June 11, 2016