On June 10, 2016, American singer and songwriter Christina Grimmie was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl while she signed autographs following her performance with Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida. Loibl then fatally shot himself after being confronted by Grimmie’s brother Marcus. Grimmie was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition; she later died from her wounds on June 11, 2016. Following her death, Grimmie’s hometown of Marlton, New Jersey, organized a candlelight vigil to memorialize her on June 13, 2016. Her funeral took place on June 16, 2016, in Medford, New Jersey, followed by a public viewing and memorial both in person and via live stream on June 17, 2016.
On June 10th, 2016, Kevin James Loibl was able to enter The Plaza Live armed with two small-caliber firearms, a large hunting knife, and two extra magazines loaded with ammunition due to The Plaza Live lacking more stringent security measures. Bags and purses were checked over by unarmed security, but guests were not subjected to frisks, nor were metal detectors at the venue. At approximately 10:30PM EST, Grimmie was conducting an autograph signing near a merchandise booth outside The Plaza Live venue. During the signing, Loibl approached and opened fire, shooting Grimmie. Eyewitnesses and news outlets reported that Grimmie had been shot three to five times, with multiple sources stating Loibl had shot her in the head and stomach. Her brother, Marcus, immediately confronted and subdued Loibl, and during the confrontation Loibl committed suicide by fatally shooting himself. Witnesses stated they noted Grimmie on the ground bleeding from a head wound while chest compressions were administrated in an attempt to save the singer’s life. Grimmie was transported to the Orlando Regional Medical Center. At 2:40AM EST, the Orlando Police Department announced on Twitter that Grimmie was in critical condition, following with another tweet stating “We have no further updates tonight. Christina remains in critical condition.” At 2:51AM EST, the Orlando Police Department confirmed that Grimmie had died from her injuries.
An estimated 120 witnesses were present at the time of the murder. One witness indicated that Grimmie greeted Loibl “with open arms, as she would any of her other friends with such enthusiasm” before he proceeded to open fire on Grimmie. Following Grimmie’s murder, Loibl’s family posted a handwritten letter on the front door of their home, stating “Deepest sorrow for lost to the family, friends & fans of the very talented, loving Christina Grimmie. No other commets.”
Loibl had a reported ‘history of violence’, with two instances involving police interference. During 2013, a police report was filed when he shattered the bones of his stepmother’s wrist by slamming it into a doorway during an argument. Loibl later claimed that he was fleeing from her, as she was inebriated. No arrests were made. In 2014, Loibl was involved in a dispute with his father. No charges were filed. In the events preceding the murder, Loibl had developed an obsession with Grimmie and went to drastic extents to change his appearance to win her affection. He underwent Lasik, hair transplantation surgery, and adopted a vegan diet in order to make himself more physically appealing to her. Loibl frequently mentioned to coworkers that he would “make her his wife” while playing her music at work and alluded to meeting Grimmie previously at a concert. Loibl also claimed to play video games with her online. This claim was later debunked by a source close to Grimmie, who stated the two had never met. Upon discovering through coworkers that Grimmie was rumored to be dating her producer, Stephen Rezza, Loibl was said by coworkers to have been enraged by the news.
The Orlando Police Department reported that Loibl did not have an arrest record in his home county, and did not appear to know Grimmie personally. A department spokesman said Loibl had traveled from another city in Florida “apparently to commit this crime,” bringing with him two handguns, two extra magazines full of ammunition, and a hunting knife. As of June 13, 2016, no motive has been determined or announced by the Orlando Police Department.
The Voice expressed sympathy upon her death via the social networking platform Twitter, as did her coach, Adam Levine, and fellow The Voice coaches Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Usher and Pharrell Williams. Carson Daly, host of The Voice, offered his condolences as well. Longtime friend and former tour-mate Selena Gomez dedicated her performance of Hillsong Worship’s “Transfiguration” to Grimmie’s memory after her death. Before You Exit, whom she had toured with at the time of her murder, issued a statement via Twitter regarding her passing.
A petition on change.org started by Ian Tan was created to commemorate and honor Grimmie, a fan of the video game series The Legend of Zelda, in the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by naming an NPC after her. It has been signed by over 50,000 people, including her brother Marcus.
After the shooting, The Plaza Live suspended all further acts, reopening four days after the shooting. Representatives of The Plaza Live noted that they “continue to work with Orlando Police in this ongoing investigation and whom we have invited to evaluate our security practices and protocols” in a statement issued by the venue. American heavy metal band Pantera criticized the venue’s lack of security and noting the comparison between her murder and the death of former Pantera guitarist Darrell “Dimebag Darrell” Abbott in 2004, urging for stricter precautions to be implemented at concert venues to further prevent such incidents.
Notable stars of the YouTube community expressed their anxiety to meet with fans in public in the news following the murder, stating they were in fear for themselves and others due to the lax security precautions surrounding Grimmie’s meet and greet. VidCon, an annual convention for individuals that follow or utilize online video platforms based in Southern California, announced plans to tighten security in the wake of Grimmie’s shooting. Following the singer’s death, VidCon announced that in addition to strengthening security measures, the organizers of the event would be adding metal detectors and security officers, and banning informal meet-and-greets between community members and YouTubers. UK Festival Summer in the City has announced will be tightening their security as well.
Vocalist of American pop rock band Maroon 5 and Grimmie’s coach on Season Six of The Voice, Adam Levine, personally called Grimmie’s mother to inform her that he would cover the expenses for the flight to transport Grimmie’s body to her hometown of Marlton, New Jersey, as well as all funeral costs. Later, Levine expressed guilt over Grimmie’s murder, noting that The Voice could have done more to protect Grimmie. In addition, Levine stated he was considering resigning from his position as a judge and coach on the series, and demanded that The Voice enforced stronger security measures in the future.
Both Selena Gomez and Bea Miller cancelled their meet-and-greets during select shows on Gomez’s Revival Tour since Grimmie’s death, citing fear for their safety.
Following Grimmie’s murder and the unrelated Pulse nightclub shooting that took place twenty-seven hours later, United States Senator Chris Murphy launched a fifteen hour filibuster to address gun control, gun safety and the rising number of mass shootings in the United States per year, urging the House of Representatives to revisit the issue of gun control and implicate stronger policies regarding firearm possession.