When former Maine pastor Daniel Randall shot his daughter Claire before killing himself Thursday, he claimed the life of someone who others say “was unquestionably the coolest person they ever met,” a friend and co-worker tells PEOPLE.
“Claire was brilliant, talented, passionate, and caring,” wrote Michelle Paul in an email about Claire, 27, the victim in an apparent murder-suicide carried out by her father, 56, who recently had been served divorce papers and checked out that morning from an alcohol rehabilitation center in Portland following a 90-day stay.
“Claire touched so many people’s lives, and had so much more to give to the world — it’s unthinkable that she’s gone,” wrote Paul, who worked with Claire at Patron Technology, a New York City-based customer relations firm that provides technology support for arts and nonprofit organizations.
Randall, 27, a resident of Brooklyn, was visiting relatives and staying with her mother in Hebron, Maine, when she was shot by her father, a former Congregational minister. Claire Randall’s mother, Anita, had earlier in the week filed for divorce, according to the Oxford Hills Sun Journal.
Daniel reportedly bought the gun on his way to the home, and after allegedly shooting his daughter multiple times while his estranged wife was out, turned the gun on himself, reports the Bangor Daily News.
Claire had been staying in Maine for the past few weeks “so she could help her mom,” according to Paul, and was planning to return to Brooklyn last weekend.
Other friends of the young woman recalled Claire in a joint statement as someone who “was strong, brave, thoughtful, witty, had a quiet confidence and made everyone feel loved and valued at all times,” reports the Portland Press Herald. “She had a beautiful soul, a wicked sense of humor, a creative mind and a kind heart.”
Claire and the man identified by those friends as her boyfriend, Gabe Gordon, both volunteered as program associates for Resonant Motion, a New York organization dedicated to deepening the connections between music and social causes.
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Claire was a vocalist and songwriter, according to her profile on the organization’s website, which states: “She envisions music as a force that provides reinforcing support to individuals, communities, and movements. It is her hope that positive creative energy will aid in the upheaval of hatred and ignorance and their corresponding social implications.”
“Claire’s professional passions lie in social services and education, specifically in relation to domestic violence prevention and substance abuse treatment programs,” her bio states.
In their statement, her friends said Claire was “a natural-born singer and performer. Watching her on stage was like an out of body experience — entirely transcendent.”
Wrote Paul: “Claire had a great sense of humor, and we all agree that she had the best fashion sense of anyone we know. The best was when those two things combined — a co-worker remembered that she once made herself a shirt out of a bacon-patterned fabric, and she somehow pulled it off and wore it without looking ridiculous.”
“In the last couple of years, her hair was variously pink, blue, and lavender, and that too somehow seemed totally natural and completely professional,” Paul wrote. “Multiple people have told me that Claire was unquestionably the coolest person they ever met.”
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Maine State Police said Daniel Randall did not have a key to the home and broke in, shooting his daughter around 2 p.m. in a bathroom, reports the Press Herald. He spray-painted five rooms of the home with messages to the family before shooting himself in the head, according to police.
In a statement from the Liberty Bay Recovery Center where Daniel had been staying, the content of which was confirmed by PEOPLE, the center’s owner and program director Nathan Cermelj said: “Liberty Bay staff as well as current clients that knew Dan are extremely saddened by the tragic events that took place.”
“Words cannot express the heartaches and emotional pain that the family must be feeling right now,” Cermelj said in his statement. “Our agency is committed to helping law enforcement at this time with their investigation.”
At Patron Technology, Claire worked as education and training manager who created and led a certification course for arts administrators from theaters, symphonies, dance companies and other cultural organizations around the country. After one such course, Paul said a client’s response demonstrated “how much good she brought to the world” by writing, “I just wanted you to know that the energy and passion you poured into the class made a major impact on me, and — by extension — on my organization.”
Wrote Paul: “I know I speak for everyone that works here, as well as clients that worked with her, when I say that this loss leaves a gaping hole in our community that will take a very long time to heal. “