ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Central Florida community gathered to reflect on the life of a former student who was brutally murdered by Islamic militants.
Students gathered at the school’s reflection pond to honor the life of Steven Sotloff, who attended the university from 2002 to 2004.
He is the most recent American journalist to be executed by members of the terrorist group ISIS.
Students, alumni and staff surrounded UCF’s reflection pond on the main campus to honor Sotloff’s life.
“I feel this is a very unfortunate event and we need to pay our respects,” said former student Chelsea Pierce.
Many people at the school never knew Sotloff, an aspiring journalist, when he walked the halls of UCF.
Those aspirations quickly developed into reality when he left UCF to freelance report in Syria.
It’s there where the south Florida native was beheaded by ISIS rebels.
“Within the Syrian community, a lot of my friends knew there wasn’t much hope for him unless Obama did something right away,” said student Hiba Shaban.
More than 200 people gathered for the vigil, which was organized by journalism students.
They said they kept in mind that he was Knight, and will always be one.
“Something this tragic, you just don’t think will happen so close to home,” Pierce said.
Hundreds of tiny candles lit up the night sky at UCF with the hope that solace would come.
Earlier Wednesday a spokesperson for Sotloff’s family in south Florida said Sotloff just wanted to give a voice to the voiceless.
“Steve was no hero. Like all of us, he was a mere man trying to find good concealed in a world of darkness. And if it did not exist he tried to create it,” Barak Barfi said.
Barfi said Sotloff dedicated his life to portraying the suffering of people in war zones.
They pledged to, “not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with fear.”