Hundreds of people surrounded the University of Central of Florida reflection pond Wednesday night to remember slain freelance reporter Steven Sotloff.
An emotional candlelight vigil brought out students, faculty members and others to the Orlando campus, where they paid respect to the former UCF student who was beheaded by Islamic State militants.
Sotloff, 31, a native of the Miami area, attended UCF from 2002 to 2004 and was a pending journalism major. Chris Nault, who played rugby with Sotloff when they were college students, said Sotloff was “chasing his dream” as he reported on the Middle East.
Sotloff was taken hostage a year ago while working in the region. Several of his articles focused on the plight of ordinary people in war-torn places.
He was “an all-around great guy,” Nault told the Central Florida Future.
Journalism major Melissa Catalanotto, president of UCF’s chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, helped organize the vigil, acting on the suggestion of a professor.
Although she didn’t know Sotloff, she said he was an inspiration for her.
“He died doing what he was passionate about, going for the truth, and that’s what this is all about,” Catalanotta told WOFL-TV in Orlando.
A local rabbi and a representative from the Syrian American Council’s Orlando chapter spoke at the vigil.
The UCF Gauntlet, a campus athletics fan group, and the Syrian American Council also helped organize the gathering.