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CSU Student Murdered After Night Out Celebrating Birthday

By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - The Larimer County Coroner's Office identified the three people killed in Thursday morning's shooting near Colorado State University.

Savannah McNealy
Savannah McNealy (credit: CBS)

Savannah McNealy, 22, and Tristian Kemp, 26, were killed by gunman Michael Zamora, 30. McNealy's friend was also shot, but not killed.

According to Fort Collins Police, the four involved were socializing prior to the shooting. Staff at Colorado State University told CBS4's Dillon Thomas McNealy was out celebrating her birthday before she was killed.

According to posts on Instagram, McNealy was familiar with her eventual killer, Zamora. Posts show the two at several events, including what appeared to be a military ball at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. An Air Force spokesperson confirmed the gunman was stationed at the base.

Michael Zamora
Michael Zamora (credit: CBS)

Police told CBS4 Kemp, McNealy and her friend caught a ride to an apartment along City Park Ave. in Fort Collins. When they arrived, they were possibly ambushed by Zamora. Police said Zamora killed Kemp and McNealy, before turning the gun on himself.

Tristian Kemp
Tristian Kemp (credit: CBS)

Police recovered two rifles, and a handgun. A motive was not released.

Those who knew McNealy, the only deceased individual who currently attended CSU, gathered on Friday to celebrate her life.

"How can you be anything but shocked, stunned, and sad," said Tom Milligan, Vice President at Colorado State University. "(McNealy) was just a dynamic, bright force. She was so creative, and funny."

Savannah McNealy
Savannah McNealy (credit: CBS)

Staff at CSU told CBS4 McNealy was an arts major, set to graduate in December. She served as a graphics designer for student media, and even helped create the iconic "Ram Walk" outside the new football stadium. Ram Walk is an Aggie-orange stripe, which the football team follows on game days to the stadium.

Tristian Kemp Michael Zamora Savannah McNealy Fort Collins Shooting
(credit: CBS)

"She was definitely witty, which was awesome. She had a spark about her," said Lauren Kroll, a colleague and friend of McNealy's.
Kroll took McNealy in as an intern at the university, and helped her design the Ram Walk graphics.

At the service, Kroll vividly remembered the day she went with McNealy to test the colors for the walk. Both forgot to bring paint brushes.

vigil (1)
(credit: CBS)

"We dipped our hands in paint, and tested it down," Kroll recalled. "Forever her print, and mine, will be under the Ram Walk."

Those who knew McNealy told CBS4 she was a creative soul, with a passion for her faith in God. Many reflected of the influence she had throughout high school in sharing her faith in Jesus with those who were curious.

Those she worked with said she was always thinking of creative ways to help others, and the university.

"She had such a creative spark about her. Such a strong personality. She was really going to be a true leader one day," Kroll said.

Staff members handed out green ribbons, which are often used to honor CSU Rams who have lost their life. While they wanted to show their respect for McNEaly's life, those CBS4 spoke with said they were saddened she was now one of those associated with sudden loss.

"She will always be part of this campus, and her legacy will remain with the Ram Walk," Kroll said.

Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.

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