Jessica Moore was your average 19-year-old college student. A psychology major, she loved to sing, shop, and play basketball. Those closest to her consistently have described Moore as a warm, bubbly, and social young woman.
“All those who ever had the distinct pleasure of her presence know the beautiful ray of sunshine she was in life and she continues to shine even brighter in her passing,” Moore’s aunt said after suspect Nicholas Welch’s arraignment.
Moore’s roommate and best friend, sophomore Jessica Townsend, 19, has many of those same interests. The pair met last year.
“We met through a mutual friend in the fall,” Townshend said. “We became close really quick and she became a part of my inner group of friends. I remember loving how comfortable she was with everything.”
From there Townsend explained that she and Moore became inseparable, so much so that when the time came for next year’s housing selection the decision was easy.
“When the time came around it wasn’t hard at all to ask her,” Townsend said.
Sophomore Nakeisha Vanterpool, who was also injured in the shooting, lives in the same suite in Cabrini Hall as Townsend does, and was also close friends with Moore. All three lived on the same floor of Boland Hall their freshmen year.
Moore saved Vanterpool’s life when she ran to her and helped her during the shooting.
“My friend, my sister I can’t believe your (sic) gone you not only save my life but you taught me so much my angel,” Vanterpool wrote on her Facebook page.
According to an eyewitness at the party, Moore jumped in front of Vanterpool in order to shield her from the gunfire, which resulted in Moore’s head wound.
“Jessica’s act was love in its purist form, only the type that comes from our heavenly father,” Moore’s aunt said. “We chose not to harbor on the act of evil and hatred that manifested itself in this tragedy for it has not and will never dim the light that Jessica cast in this world.”
Vanterpool stated that they met during orientation and “would talk to Jess (Moore) about everything. We had a lot of fun together.”
Both Townsend and Vanterpool have many fond memories as a group and personally with Moore. They described her as “an open book that loved everyone”.
One thing they both agreed on and smiled when recalling was Moore’s love for college basketball, in particular the Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
“She always loved sports,” Vanterpool said. “She would stand at the television and jump and yell like it was nobody’s business”
“You’d never see someone wearing so much orange,” Townsend said.
Laughing was yet another thing the girls explained Moore loved doing a lot of.
“Jess thought she was so funny,” Vanterpool said laughing. “She would always make a joke, start laughing, and then look around to realize she was the only one that found it funny. Then everybody would laugh.”
More than anything, though, Townsend and Vanterpool remember Moore’s smile and personality.
“Her smile lit up a room,” they said. “She didn’t need to know you to treat you like a friend”
At the beginning of this school year Townsend said that there was a lot of falling outs in her group of friends. After everything that has happened, her friendships have been mending and everyone has come together.
“Jess always was the glue,” Townsend said.
Vanterpool agreed with Townsend and said that Moore would always put both her hands on her head and exclaim “Can’t we all just get along!” whenever problems would arise in their group of friends.
“You couldn’t help but love this girl,” both girls said.
“Jessica Ann Moore is a beautiful reflection of self, a beautiful reflection of her family, a beautiful reflection of her generation, a beautiful reflection of humanity, and most of all a beautiful reflection of God,” Moore’s aunt said. “That is the message, the story that should be remembered out of this tragedy. Let her love and kindness be not in vein let this be a testimony to this world that love of this kind does still exist.”
Nicholas Parco can be reached at email@example.com.