Calgary stabbing victims' families and friends shattered

Lawrence Hong, Kaitlin Perras, ​Jordan Segura, Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell were all killed early Tuesday morning in what Calgary police say was the city's worst mass murder, leaving friends and family members in shock.

Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and ​Jordan Segura killed Tuesday

Many Calgarians are still reeling from what Calgary's police chief calls the city's worst mass murder.

Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and ​Jordan Segura, 22, were all fatally stabbed at a party early Tuesday morning. 

Five first-degree murder charges have been laid against 22-year-old Matthew de Grood. 

All six were at a house party in the northwest community of Brentwood to celebrate the last day of university classes. 

Gaby Zuniga, who attended a vigil at a local art college today, knew all of the victims, many of the people at the party and the man charged with murder.

"He's been in the group when we hang out. I've spoken to him a handful of times but he never seemed like the kind of person who would do something like this," she said.

"He was quiet and he was shy. but I never would have thought he would do something like this."

Zuniga says she's having a hard time accepting what happened.

"I'm struggling but I have my friends and my family and I've been seeing counselling," she said.

Joshua Hunter, 23, a University of Calgary business student, was one of five people killed in a mass stabbing at a small Calgary house party this week. His father says the family is 'in shock.' (Facebook)

Barkley Hunter, Josh’s father, said his family from Priddis, Alta., wants to tell his story, but is waiting for other family members to come to Calgary. 

“We are still in shock,” he said.

"We want people to know what a wonderful person Josh was."

He said many of his son's friends were at the family home Tuesday to offer condolences and remember their friend.

The family is working to make funeral arrangements. 

Kaitlin Perras, 23, was the only female who died in the stabbings earlier this week in Calgary. Her stepcousin says her family is 'beyond shattered.' (Perras family)

'She inspired me'

Kaitlyn Harris and Kaitlyn MacArthur, who used to dance with Perras, went to the home where the stabbings took place to lay flowers and a pair of ballet shoes.

We are so sorry to the families of the other victims, and to the parents of the person who did this—I am so sorrytoo.- Kaitlyn Harris, friend of Kaitlin Perras

"She inspired me to be a better dancer. She was the reason I pursued ballet like I did. The most beautiful smile," said MacArthur, calling her kindhearted.

Harris said her friend's younger sister also does ballet, and had "every trait of her older sister."

"We are so sorry to the families of the other victims, and to the parents of the person who did this — I am so sorry too. You must be in a lot of pain," said Harris.

Speaking for the Perras family, stepcousin Jennifer Laraway asked media for privacy. 

"The family is beyond shattered," she wrote in an email.

"With your co-operation, the family will be able to grieve this senseless tragedy in private."

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, was a member of local Calgary band of Zackariah and The Prophets. They had just released their debut EP, and had a CD release party Saturday. (Facebook)

'We loved them more than anything'

Bandmates of Hunter and Rathwell, who performed as Zackariah and The Prophets, expressed thanks on Facebook Tuesday night for the outpouring of condolences they received. 

We didn't lose two bandmates, we lost two brothers.- Facebook post from Zackariah and The Prophets

"We didn't lose two bandmates, we lost two brothers. Their shining shenanigans and shining light will always be with us. ZATP is done, because the band was all four of us. Without all four of us, the band doesn't exist. We love you all. And we loved them more than anything in the world."

Jesse Northey produced Zackariah and The Prophets' latest album, Goodnight Icarus, at his recording studio in Lethbridge, Alta.

“It’s been really devastating. It’s kind of hard to know how to feel in a situation like this,” he said.

"I feel really weird. I haven't had very many people that I've known very well pass away. And so it breaks my heart. It is tragic and I really enjoyed their company and they were really, really good to me."

'Why is he gone?'

Coralya Zaayl, who became fast friends with Rathwell when they met at the school’s orientation, said he had a positive energy and would always put a smile on your face.

“He was not only known by his classmates at his level but also by the upper students because of the music, which was a very powerful driving force,” said Zaayl.

“Why is he gone? Why was he targeted? Why was he the person that died? It’s hard because you don't expect that to happen. I think what he wants us to do is remember all the amazing things he has done with his life and to celebrate his life and just to pass his memory on.”

Lawrence Hong, 27, was about to graduate from the University of Calgary. (Facebook)

The Calgary Folk Music Festival organizers said they were shocked by the loss of Hong, who volunteered at the annual music event for years.

“Our condolences go out to all those who knew Lawrence, particularly the members of the dispatch crew and his family,” wrote volunteer manager Talia Potter.

“Lawrence's dedication and volunteer spirit will be missed by every organization that he was involved with and everyone who knew him.”

Jordan Segura, 22, was a religious studies student. His employer called his death is a 'terrible loss.' (Facebook)

'A terrible loss'

Segura was enrolled in religious studies and worked part-time at MacInnis and Holloway funeral home. 

"It's a terrible loss," said funeral director Ernie Hagel, who is bringing in counsellors to help staff. 

"He was a young man who cared, a young man who wanted to serve people, a young man who was very, very responsible."

Mayor calls for kindness

In a post on Facebook, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi encouraged people to get help if they need it and asked Calgarians to respond to each other with kindness and compassion. 

"We all might need a little more of that," he said.

Nenshi expressed condolences to friends and families of the "five young people who lost their lives so senselessly."

"It is natural to speculate when these types of events occur," the post reads. 

"We want to know what happened, who was involved, and why the outcome was so horrific. Those details will come out in time as my colleagues at the Calgary Police Service continue their investigation."