Slain SFU student remembered at vigil
Two days after aspiring actress Maple Batalia was killed in a Surrey parking garage, hundreds of grief-stricken friends and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday night in her honour.
The event began at 7 p.m. at Holland Park, which was adorned with candles and photographs of the Simon Fraser University student who was fatally shot early Wednesday morning at the age of 19.
Among the mourners was Maple's father Harkirat Batalia, who was so overwhelmed with sorrow he could barely speak.
"This wonderful child, a jewel of mine, has been snatched away forever," Batalia cried, describing the loss of his daughter as "the biggest torture in my life."
"We were so peaceful, we were so happy," he said. "My angel was a rising star of Canada, with so many ambitions."
The nursing student was found critically wounded after being shot in a garage near SFU's Surrey campus early Wednesday morning. No arrests have been made, but Mounties doubled the number of investigators working on the case Thursday.
Cpl. Annie Linteau attended Friday night's vigil, where she told CTV News there were no updates in the case, and that police still don't know if Maple's death was targeted or random.
"Of course, we have to look at all possibilities," she said. "We're certainly aware of the many speculations, unanswered questions surrounding this investigation and, of course, we can't confirm any of that information."
Family and friends believe the killer may be someone the young victim knew, and say Maple had recently broken up with her boyfriend.
On Friday, attendees focused on their fond memories of Maple, who was considering a career in medicine. Michelle Cyr, a friend of Maple's, described her as a kind person who was beloved by everyone in her life.
"When this happened, I was amazed at how many people she touched," Cyr said. "She actually brought the whole community together."
Mounties say they have been unable to find any "questionable lifestyle" factors that could have contributed to Maple's death, and do not believe she had ties to drugs, gangs or crime of any kind.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen described her as "an outstanding student, a pillar in her community."
Police say there are currently between 40 and 50 officers involved with the investigation into her death.
Maple, who pursued acting and modeling gigs to help pay for her education, landed a small role in one of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" films adapted from the popular young-adult book series.
On Saturday, she was set to compete in the Surrey's Central City Model Search. The event has been postponed indefinitely.