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Canisius College freshman slain in Rochester double shooting

On Nov. 12, Canisius College freshman Victoria Brooks used a social media website called Odyssey to post a beautiful poem about the kindness of people she has known.

The first words of her post were: "I believe in the incredible goodness of man."

Two weeks later -- either late on Thanksgiving night or early on Friday morning -- Brooks was brutally murdered in her hometown of Rochester.

Rochester Police said the bodies of Brooks and her mother, Christie Brooks, were found inside their home on Wellington Avenue around 7 a.m.

Despite reports that police were looking at a "person of interest" in the case, as of early Friday evening, no arrests had been reported.

The shooting deaths shocked people in Rochester and at Canisius, where Victoria Brooks had already made her mark as a volunteer and as a new student anxious to become involved in campus activities.

"This is a tough day, anytime you lose an 18-year-old," said Mike Hayes, director of campus ministry at Canisius. "I did not know her well, but Victoria was a person who jumped right in and wanted to get involved in things. In September, she took part in our burrito project. Students make about 120 burritos and take them out and serve them to the hungry and the homeless."

Hayes said Victoria was also working for the admissions office, giving tours to prospective students.

"I spoke to a friend there today and he was very upset," Hayes said. "He said all Victoria talked about in the past week was going home to be with her family...This was a young woman who was filled with hope for the future."

Rochester police have said they received a call at about 7:11 a.m. Friday from a family member who found two women deceased at 206 Wellington Ave., according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli told reporters near the scene Friday morning there were another seven or eight children in the house.

"We are at a very preliminary stage, but at this time we have no reason to believe there's any danger to anyone else or this neighborhood," the chief told reporters.

Jonathan Pugh, a relative of both victims, in an interview with reporters at the scene said a "person of interest" was in custody.

Here is some video from Rochester D&C reporter Todd Clausen who spoke with family members:

Jon Pugh, Victoria Brooks' grandfather, told reporters she was home for Thanksgiving "and I guess to celebrate her mother's birthday. Something didn't go right." Christie Brooks was 35.

Canisius officials issued a statement on the deaths:

"The Canisius College community is profoundly saddened by the deaths of freshman student Victoria Brooks and her mother, Christie Brooks. We extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to their surviving family members and friends.

"Grief counseling will be made available to all members of the Canisius College community this coming week."

Shocked officials of Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in Rochester – the high school where Victoria graduated last June – were putting together a letter for the parents of students when a Buffalo News reporter called there Friday afternoon.

The news was heartbreaking, said principal Terry Quinn.

“Victoria was a beautiful girl, an excellent student and a person who was welcoming to everyone,” Quinn said. "Friendly and welcoming to everyone."

He added that Victoria volunteered at the library at Our Lady of Mercy and that she was an eager participant in the school's Teen Book Festival.

As the main illustration on Christie Brooks' Facebook page, she proudly posted a photograph of Victoria’s high school diploma earlier this year.

“It is with deep sadness that we share that Mercy graduate, Victoria Brooks, class of 2016 and her mother, Christie Brooks were found dead this morning from gunshot wounds,” Quinn said in a message sent today to parents of students at Our Lady of Mercy School. “Victoria was home from Canisius College for Thanksgiving. The police have no suspect at this point. We ask the entire Mercy community to pray for Victoria, her mother, and her family, including her sister, a current Mercy junior, Alexizandria.”

Counselors will be available at the school to talk with students on Saturday and Monday, Quinn said.

At Canisius Friday night, Hayes was still formulating what he is going to say to Victoria's friends when he speaks to them about her murder.

"Sometimes, I have to figure out what I am going to tell myself before I tell the students things," Hayes said. "Evil wants us to believe there is no hope. I believe that God is holding her and her mother in the palms of his hands, and no more harm can come to them...This is unbelievable, your worst nightmare, but our campus community will rally around and help each other to get through it."

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