January 16, 2018 01:45 AM

Blaze Bernstein, the Orange County, California, college student who was murdered during his winter break, was remembered as a talented writer and passionate chef during his funeral service on Monday.

According to a report by the Orange County Register on Monday, Blaze had been stabbed more than 20 times, leading investigators to wonder if the killing was an act of rage.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the Bernstein family addressed the details of their son’s death, saying, “We are saddened to hear, on the day we laid our son to rest, that gruesome details of the cause of his death were published.”

Blaze Bernstein
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“Our son was a beautiful gentle soul who we loved more than anything,” the statement continued. “We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community. There is still much discovery to be done and if it is determined that this was a hate crime, we will cry not only for our son, but for LGBTQ people everywhere that live in fear or who have been victims of hate crime.”

His parents are encouraging people to “set aside fear, ignorance and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze’s memory. #dogoodforblaze,” as well as a website in their son’s memory.

RELATED VIDEO: Calif. Student Blaze Bernstein’s High School Friend Named as Suspect in His Murder

Hundreds gathered to remember Blaze, who was found dead in Borrego Park, California. Those who attended were given spatulas with the last recipe he made — a rum-pineapple upside-down cake he made for his family on New Year’s Eve — according to local news outlets.

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During the memorial, Blaze’s father Gideon Bernstein said his son was “like a young pony just getting into a steady gallop, with your face to the wind and so looking forward to what was coming next,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Blaze, I know you didn’t like the spotlight,” he said. “But you’d be amazed at all the good things being done in your honor here today.”

After an exhaustive search, the 19-year-old’s lifeless body was found last Tuesday in the brush surrounding Borrego Park in Lake Forest, California, where he was visiting his parents.

Based upon evidence found at the scene, authorities believe Blaze’s death was a homicide, and last Friday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department named Blaze’s high school friend, Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, as the suspect in the case and arrested him on suspicion of homicide.


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