Friends and coworkers of Drew Birnkrant, the 20-year-old College of the Canyons student killed in what detectives suspect was a triple-murder-suicide on Friday, have organized a candlelight vigil to honor and celebrate the life of their late peer.
The event will be held on Valencia High School’s central quad at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Organizers, several who knew Birnkrant from her work at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall, told The Signal they envisioned the vigil as an opportunity for anyone in the community to pay their respects.
All, they emphasized, are welcome to attend.
It was a slow day at the mall Friday. Customers came and went, perusing the racks of shirts and jackets in search of perfect item on which to cash in their holiday gift cards.
Lauren Jordan worked as normal — helping customers, opening fitting rooms, manning the register — when her phone buzzed. Some coworkers, she said, sent the news story in an SMS group chat.
She opened the message.
“I saw the article with the pics,” she said.
She quickly learned that Drew Birnkrant, her coworker, the girl with whom she bonded by exchanging silly anecdotes and photographs of her dog, was dead.
“It was just a moment of devastation.”
This devastation, however, led swiftly to action.
“We were just kind of in shock, but we knew we had to do something.”
Getting the word out
Jordan and her coworkers decided on a vigil, which they viewed as a prime opportunity for those who knew Birnkrant to be able to celebrate her life and to bind together in solidarity.
“We wanted to focus on her and celebrate the life that she lived,” Jordan recalled.
So they picked up their phones and mobilized.
They called Dave Caldwell, public information officer at the Hart district, and secured permission to hold the vigil in conjunction with Valencia High’s administration.
Venue now in hand, they began to spread the word with a flier they shared on various social media platforms.
Coming together in grief
We posted the flier, she said, and a lot of people began to like and comment.
Through social media, concerned locals began offering to donate items for the event.
“We got items and donations,” said Jordan. “Candles, flowers, anything we could put together.”
Within a few hours, the grieving group of friends had organized the event with their iPhones and with the help of the community.
“Drew always had a smile on her face and I believe it’s our turn to make a positive out of such a heartbreaking situation,” Jordan wrote on an Instagram post.
“Once you meet her, you can’t forget her,” she told The Signal on Saturday, “she was that light at the end of the tunnel.”
On Twitter: @ryan_pintor