I woke up thinking that day would just be like any other day. I took my car to the shop and then went to work, earphones in and typing away. My phone rang, and I answered it. The person on the other end told me that what they were about to say would mean I’d need to take the day off work. I ran into a break room, bracing myself for emotional impact.

“There was a shooting in Provo last night, and Jeremy was shot,” said the voice.

My stomach tightened and my heart started beating faster. I looked for a trash can to throw up in but couldn’t find one. I composed myself and assured them I would get to them as soon I could.

Now, I sit among friends grieving for our friend. Texts and phone calls going out to those who loved and knew him beyond what the news and comment feed are saying. We are all heartbroken, but why would we mourn a criminal?

We know the real Jeremy Sorensen, and hope to show you who he was, too — beyond what any news article has yet to say. Here is what we want you to know about him.

He came from a struggling background and was just learning to move past that. As a young child, he was adopted into a white, Mormon family. He dealt with the typical issues that come with adoption, like being black in a white world and feelings of abandonment. He had severe social anxiety and couldn’t understand a lot of social cues. He never told us whether or not he was on the autism spectrum, but there was something to him in that regard and people took advantage of that.

As his friends, we got to know him as a loving man. He would tell us stories about his biological and adoptive families. You could tell he loved them, especially his siblings. He also had a son — oh, how he loved his son! He was placed for adoption by Jeremy’s previous girlfriend, and he fought to gain custody for a year. That event truly broke him, but it never broke the love he had for his boy. He also had a great love for God and was active in his local evangelical church.

Jeremy wasn’t the type of person to just call anybody his friend, but those he did he cared for so deeply. To us, he was very loyal and trusting. Over the years that we’ve been his friends, we’ve seen him change and grow as a person. He was becoming more forgiving, grateful and kind — despite all that the world had thrown at him.

Now, we know that what the news has said thus far is that he was fighting an 18-year-old woman whose name hasn’t been released yet.

We would like to voice our disapproval of the use of lethal force on our friend. Although most of his friends are white, we honestly wonder if the shooter would have shot so quickly had Jeremy been white and not black. We ask ourselves, “Why did the shooter not push Jeremy or call the police?”

However, we understand that these are questions that only God knows the answer to. In fact, only God knows what all went down during the fight. Because of this, we urge the public to be gentle in their approach to this subject as well as to consider responsible use of concealed carry firearms. Remember that Jeremy was not like you or I. He also had a family and friends who loved him very much and are hurting right now.

Lastly, Jeremy, we love you and are proud to have been your friends.

Haley Sotelo

Haley Sotelo is a Brigham Young University graduate and a good friend of Jeremy Sorensen’s. The two met in 2016 and enjoyed hanging out, going to church and eating at Buffalo Wild Wings.