Alex Oyombe Gradin, a student at Lane Community College, was shot and killed in a parking lot behind Taylor’s Bar and Grill in the early hours of May 4, according to the Eugene Police Department. He was 21 years old.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Alex spent his first few months in an orphanage before being adopted by the Gradin family.
“We appreciate the outpouring of love and concern we have received in the tragic death of our son, Alex,” his family said in a statement released to the public. “He was an unexpected blessing to our lives when he joined us as a baby in Kenya and grew to be a compassionate, thoughtful young man. He naturally made many friends all over the world, who are grieving right now. We request at this time that you allow us to heal and support each other as a family.”
Alex is remembered by his friends and family for his wide contagious smile and warm, often-goofy sense of humor. He was an enthusiastic athlete, running track and playing football at Tigard High School before graduating in 2016. After a year at Western Oregon University, Alex transferred to LCC and moved to Eugene.
A candlelight vigil was held for Alex on the evening of May 8 on LCC’s main campus, where his teachers, classmates and former teammates from Tigard High gathered to share their fond memories and pay their final respects.
“He once told me in a class that his goal was to become super wealthy,” Beth Landy, one of Alex’s teachers at LCC, said. “We laughed about it at the time, but later I realized that he didn’t want to be rich only for himself. All he wanted was to take care of his family.”
Alex is survived by his mother, father and four siblings. In lieu of flowers and other gifts, the Gradin family asks that well-wishers send donations to New Life Home Trust, the Kenyan orphanage where they first met Alex two decades earlier.