Slain St. Thomas senior honored with celebration of life service

Charlie Johnson was shot and killed downtown Minneapolis in May. "I am Charlie" is a mantra being used by the family in solidarity to address hate and gun violence. Plus, it serves as a call to bring out the best in all of us and be like Charlie. (Th

Friends, family and classmates gathered inside the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul on Memorial Day to honor the life of Charlie Johnson.

The 21-year old and University of St. Thomas grad-to-be was gunned down in downtown Minneapolis a couple weekends ago, an innocent victim of gang crossfire on 1st Avenue. 

"He had a zest for life and adventure that will never be matched," said Drew Malecek, Charlie’s roommate and friend. "The task of everyone in this beautiful chapel it to seek adventure each day with Charlie in your heart. He’ll be with us."

"Goofy, calm, kind and so special, Charlie lived every day to the fullest, sharing smiles and seeking adventures," said Camille Johnson, Charlie’s sister. "He carried the silliest grin on his face that could light up any room, and never missed an opportunity for a giggle."

It was Camille, who just hours after her brother was killed May 22, walked to the stage at the University of St. Thomas graduation to accept his engineering diploma. It was an emotional moment Camille has said she had to do for Charlie.

Monday’s service included a touching video montage capturing all the adventures, travel and love Charlie packed into 21 short years.

RELATED: Charlie Johnson's family describes shock, disbelief after losing son to shooting

"That power that comes from above, we find a way to turn sorrow into joy, suffering into healing. and violence which is all too prevalent in our cities to turn violence into peace, turn death into new life," said Father Lawrence Blake, the University of St. Thomas chaplain.

"I love you Chuck," said Malecek. "You are my best friend, my soulmate, my brother, forever my guiding light. Our connection isn’t bound by time or this earth. And today marks the beginning of our new adventure together. I am Charlie, we are all Charlie."