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Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
People gather at the University of Utah Student Union in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, to support each other in the wake of Monday night's fatal shooting of university student ChenWei Guo.

SALT LAKE CITY — A month before he was killed in an attempted carjacking Monday, ChenWei Guo told friends he didn't mind that he had recently come close to crashing his car when he drove over a cooking pot someone had left in the road.

"He said he was glad it happened to him and not somebody else," said his friend Ricky Almanzor, recalling Guo's talk at a meeting of their LDS ward. "It shows he doesn't think about himself. He thinks about other people."

Almanzor and roughly 100 other people gathered in the University of Utah's student union Tuesday evening to grieve for Guo, 23, who was shot and killed Monday night during an attempted carjacking that led to a lockdown of the university.

Administrators and student leaders urged students to seek support, attend grief discussion groups and express how they feel about their classmate's death.

After the brief gathering at the U., Almanzor recalled Guo as gregarious, goofy and "just a charming, lovely person" who aspired to run a consulting firm and help others find their confidence. When Guo's parents visited, they were sealed in their Mormon faith, and Guo in a speech thanked his mother for her patience with him.

Peter Morgan, Guo's LDS Church bishop, said Guo was "certainly a bright, ambitious and outgoing individual," calling his death a "great loss."

On Tuesday, with classes canceled due to the shooting, "the campus was so quiet," said Taylor Li.

"I still love my U.," Li said, even though she was heartbroken by Guo's death. He had helped her plot out coursework as part of his campus job working with international students, she said. "I was so sad."

Helping others

Guo was a pre-computer science major and a peer adviser with the International Student and Scholar Services Office.

"We are so very, deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this beloved son, friend and student," Lori McDonald, U. dean of students, said in tears at a news conference earlier Tuesday.

Other students described him as extraordinary, outgoing, charming, creative, smart and "extremely engaged in our community," she said.

The university is arranging to bring Guo's family from China to Utah as soon as possible.

According to his bio on the U.'s International Student and Scholar Services website, Guo was born in Beijing and "has lived in many different places growing up, as well as traveled to Europe and Asia." He came to the U.S. in 2012 and would have turned 24 on Sunday.

"His dream is to one day have his own consulting company to help more people feel good about themselves," the bio says. "During his spare time, Chen likes to have adventures like skydiving, skiing, horseback riding and working with ISSS peer advisers. He also likes dancing and modern fashion. Oh, and French bulldogs!"

Guo's social media profile includes photos of him traveling, spending time with friends and serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to his Facebook profile, Guo served his mission in Provo.

Two close friends of Guo, Brian and Wen Nikki Gomez, wept and held each other as they remembered the man who instantly befriended each of them, then later introduced them.

Gomez family photo
ChenWei Guo, from Beijing, China, center, poses with Wen Nikki and Brian Gomez following the couple's wedding. Guo, who was shot and killed on the night of Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, near Red Butte Canyon, was a pre-computer science major at the University of Utah and a peer adviser with the International Student and Scholar Services Office. Guo introduced Brian Gomez and Wen Nikki Gomez to each other.

"We wouldn't be us if it wasn't for him," Brian Gomez said, sharing photos of a grinning Guo posing with him and his wife at their wedding.

In the face of college stresses and the growing pains that come with being a foreign student, Brian Gomez said Guo was unfailingly positive. He shared that optimism with everyone he met and everyone he served as an LDS missionary.

"It's not just us who are feeling this today, it's hundreds, thousands," Brian Gomez said.

"Lots of people love him," Wen Nikki Gomez added. "He was so happy, he brought happiness to everyone."

As friends mourned Guo Tuesday, his Facebook page became a memorial for posting tributes and sharing memories.

"You're not only one of the brightest guys I know, but also one of our family's dearest missionar(ies). As a missionary serving in our area, you came a lot to our home. Your testimony often moved us, and eventually helped my nonmember cousin to get baptized," wrote Rachel Tam.

"I am in total shock. Elder ChenWei Guo, you will be missed. You have touched the lives of so many people, and I believe you will continue to do so," wrote Jake Jung while posting a picture of Guo with his missionary companions.

"Please keep his family in your prayers. We love and miss you," wrote Brant Fuhriman, who said he was Guo's former roommate.

Officials offer condolences

"Today we mourn together at the loss of one of our own and will work diligently to keep everyone in our community safe," Mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a Facebook post, calling the death of Guo a "senseless and cruel act."

Guo had come to Salt Lake from China, the mayor said, "to learn, grow and find opportunity."

Gov. Gary Herbert also extended condolences to Guo's family.

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"It was such a tragedy, a needless tragedy, and so our condolences and thoughts and prayers and best wishes go to his family," Herbert said.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, offered her condolences to the victim's family, saying Guo "came to Utah to serve his mission and further his education. My heart goes out to his family and friends in China and here in Utah.”

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, agreed.

"My heart breaks for the family of ChenWei Guo," Bishop said a statement. "May they find comfort at this time of terrible loss."