Members of the Greenville community convened in uptown on Tuesday for a candlelight vigil, where they read aloud the names and stories of all 49 victims of the Orlando shooting. (Video by Rich Klindworth; photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU alumnus among victims in Orlando shooting 

June 13, 2016

By Jamie Smith
ECU News Services

It is a sad day on the campus of East Carolina University.

Campus officials learned today that alumnus Shane Tomlinson is among the victims of the devastating Pulse nightclub shooting that occurred in the early morning hours Sunday, June 12.

Tomlinson was known during his time on campus for his high intensity personality and impressive singing voice. He graduated from ECU in December 2003 with a bachelor of science degree in communication with a minor in business administration. He lived in Orlando.

Shane Tomlinson (Photo credit D. Bailey Management, Inc.)

“We are saddened to learn that one of our own was killed in this tragedy in Orlando,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Shane’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for student affairs, said, “Today, we mourn the loss of Shane Tomlinson and all of those impacted in this senseless tragedy. While gone way too soon, Shane and his family are forever in the hearts of the Pirate Nation.”

Dr. Lathan Turner, associate director of student transitions at ECU, worked at the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center on campus and met Tomlinson when he was a student. They kept in touch over the years.  

“He was a great person – if you met him once he became a part of who you are,” said Turner.

He said Tomlinson spent a lot of time at the Cultural Center participating in and attending events. He was also a part of the ECU gospel choir and the student modeling group Ombionce.

“He was destined for a grand stage and he was doing exactly what he wanted to do,” said Turner.

Tarrick Cox is the advisor for ECU’s gospel choir and worked with Tomlinson when he was a member. He remembers Tomlinson’s contagious personality and laughter that surrounded him when he was around other people.

“He was gifted and creative. He was a go-getter who did well academically. He always looked at people as individuals and never categorized them,” said Cox. 

Singing was Tomlinson’s passion and as the lead singer of, The Frequency Band, Turner believes he was happy and satisfied with life in Orlando. Tomlinson was a part of a loving and close family and leaves behind his mother, father, a sister and a young nephew he adored, Turner said.


  Vigil honors Orlando victims

Approximately 500 people came together Tuesday, June 14 in Greenville to honor and remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The event began with a several block walk from Crave Uptown Restaurant and Bar to the Greenville Town Common for a candlelight vigil.

During the vigil, a saxophone group played as the mostly silent crowd sat or stood on the amphitheater hillside. Some held signs or flags, while others held hands.

As the sun set, speakers took to the stage to reflect on the shooting at the Pulse nightclub and offer hope for the future. The culmination of the event was the reading of the names of the 49 victims, which included a short biography and a picture. The last name read was 2003 ECU graduate Shane Tomlinson.

"When something as tragic and incomprehensible as this happens, it can feel very remote. But when we got the news that a member of Pirate Nation died in the attack, I think for a lot of people it brought it home," said Mark Rasdorf who is the associate director for the LGBT resource office at ECU.

- Rich Klindworth