She Greeted Him with 'Her Arms Open Wide,' Says Concertgoer Who Stood Behind Gunman Before He Opened Fire on Christina Grimmie
Destiny Rivera tells PEOPLE that she stood directly behind the shooter – who has now been identified by Orlando police as 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl – right before he opened fire on the Voice alum.
While it currently isn’t possible to confirm that Rivera was at the venue, she claims to have several very specific details about the incident and says she is an eyewitness to the shooting.
“I was talking to the girls behind us and there was a guy directly in line in front of us who I could’ve very easily started a conversation with,” Rivera says. “But I didn’t, he just didn’t look like he was up for a conversation.
“He did look a little bit nervous, but he was by himself and he was dressed as any other concertgoer,” she continues. “He didn’t seem up for a conversation whatsoever, and he was kinda – he just kept looking around and was moving his body.”
Rivera also said she made eye contact with Loibl several times while they were waiting to greet Grimmie and that he seemed “kinda creepy.”
“He also looked like he wanted to be by himself,” she says.
When it came time for Loibl to meet Grimmie, Rivera says she greeted him with “her arms open wide ready to greet him, as she would any of her other friends with such enthusiasm.”
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However, according to Rivera, as Loibl approached Grimmie, Rivera turned to talk with her friends and then heard “three popping noises” that she thought were balloons, which fans had brought to the event.
Rivera says she then turned back around to Grimmie and saw her lying on the ground and other fans running.
“I just saw Mark, her brother, kinda jump over the merch table,” Rivera says, referencing Grimmie’s older brother Marcus (aka, Mark) who worked with her on tour and tackled the shooter before the gunman took his own life. “And once I saw him jumping over the merch table, it kinda hit me and was like, ‘this is a very serious serious situation.’ And I finally registered, like, Christina is not laying on the floor – she was shot and fell to the ground. So I instantly started running, I was the third one out, and I heard another gunshot. I assumed that the shooter was running out of the venue with us.”
“For those of you who have not heard, I had the unfortunate tragedy of witnessing all of the events that occurred last night at The Plaza Live,” Rivera wrote. “As I was in line to meet Christina Grimmie for the first time, the man directly in front of us in line gave Christina a fate she did not deserve.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Rivera also claimed that she and her friends allegedly broke the news to the band Grimmie was opening for, pop-rock band Before You Exit.
“I have never been so heartbroken as I was yesterday seeing how truly upset Connor, Riley, Toby, and their friends and family were,” she wrote. “They were all trying to be so strong, but of course it only lasts for so long.”
Grimmie was fatally shot late Friday at the Plaza Live venue in Orlando, Florida. At a press conference Saturday morning, Orlando police chief John Mina said Grimmie was possibly shot by a deranged fan, although no motive has officially been revealed.
Rivera also tells PEOPLE that the venue’s security team did not check everyone’s bags:
“Our other friend actually did have a bag and, just ordinary force of habit, was unzipping her bag and getting ready to show him, and he was like, ‘no, you’re fine, you’re good. Just go.’ ”
According to police, Loibl had two guns and a knife on him when he attacked Grimmie.
Still, Rivera has fond memories of Grimmie’s final performance.
“You could tell that she genuinely enjoyed what she was doing,” she said of Grimmie. “She was constantly interacting with the crowd and laughing around and joking, like, making fun of herself. Very kind hearted. She just seemed like a fun outgoing person.”