A teenage girl wearing an Old Bridge High School t-shirt walked slowly up to a collage of photos displaying the smiling faces of Christina LoBrutto and Bryan Breen.
One of the first to arrive Friday night, she knelt near the pink, purple, yellow, and green candles decorating the pavement in front of the collage. Cautiously, she held a lighter to a pink candle. A spark finally flew and brought the candle to life, acknowledging the heart-wrenching fact that earlier that same day two young Old Bridge High School alumni were shot and killed .
Friends and family recalled the lives that LoBrutto, 18, who was signed up and ready to begin college at Brookdale, and Breen, 24, who was a student at Middlesex County College, left behind.
Sophie Nieto-Munoz, who was close with LoBrutto since they met in middle school, planned the to create a space for the community to come together and grieve.
"We can't accept that two people from our school have been shot and killed," Nieto-Munoz said. "We're a community. We love each other. We come together as a family."
She will miss LoBrutto's fun, quirky sense of humor that never failed to make her laugh.
"She's going to be remembered as a great, fun-loving person," Nieto-Munoz said. "You're going to remember her, and you're going to smile."
Breen was remembered at the vigil for being kind and caring.
"He was the boy next door," said friend Alison Drake, 24. "He was a great friend. He went out of his way to do things for you. All he ever did was help people."
Jessica Chuvalier, 24, stood with her arm linked with Drake's, as the pair wiped silent tears.
"That's the one thing that people should remember about him. He was sweet," Chuvalier said. "He was genuinely good."
Mourners continued to show up as the night went on with balloons and flowers in tow, embracing one another in disbelief.
And even though the candles won't burn forever, it's clear that the light of LoBrutto's and Breen's lives will continue to glow from the hearts of their friends and family.