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Family, friends gather for Haruka Weiser funeral

The service is open to the public

Eileen Park and KOIN 6 News Staff -

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) -- Family and friends gathered at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Beaverton Saturday morning to remember and honor Haruka Weiser. The 18-year-old freshman at the University of Texas Austin was killed on campus as she walked home from a night class earlier this month.

The service, which was open to the public, began at 9 a.m.

Her family urged mourners to remember the young woman's joyful life, not just the way it ended.

Haruka Weiser's 16-year-old brother Noboru spoke on behalf of the family during the funeral in Beaverton, Oregon, recalling sleepovers, good-natured teasing and other moments from their childhood. The service began with a piano solo, playing one of Haruka's favorites: Claire de Lune. It ended, with hundreds collectively singing Amazing Grace. The Weisers are regular parishioners at Holy Trinity.

Family friend Tanya Firemoon said Haruka was lucky to come from a home filled with joy. "Their family is very close knit. Very honest, very true," she said. " The Weisers are very beautiful people."

Community members gathered earlier this month for a vigil, where friends and family hung candles in trees, released dove balloons and read poetry to honor Haruka's memory.

Haruka had a huge impact on the community at Beaverton's Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, where she was a member of the dance company Dance West. Haruka also performed with the Portland Ballet for 2 years, and received ACMA's largest ever scholarship for a dance student.

Meechaiel Criner, 17, a local homeless man, was arrested in connection with her death after he was found allegedly trying to burn some of Haruka's belongings.The Weiser family and UT Austin have established a memorial fund in Haruka's name.

Weiser is survived by her brother, her 14-year-old sister Naomi and her parents, Thomas Weiser and Yasuyo Tsunemine. Noboru said the family wanted people to remember his sister so that her joy can continue to grow in the hearts of those who love her.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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