Peter Morgan found ChenWei Guo to be “a remarkable individual” in the three months they knew each other.
“I think (he had) a strong sense of responsibility,” Morgan said. “He was… (willing to) demonstrate that leadership and follow through.
Morgan has served since August as the LDS bishop of the City Creek YSA 3rd Ward, where Guo attended church meetings. He said Guo was loving, caring and willing to experience difficult things so other people wouldn’t have to.
Guo, a pre-computer science major at the University of Utah, was shot and killed on Oct. 30 by Austin Boutain, 24, during an attempted carjacking. Guo, an international student from China, was 23.
Though Boutain escaped an extensive manhunt that night, he was apprehended the following afternoon at the Salt Lake City library when a librarian recognized him from news reports. The Deseret News reported he was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder, attempted homicide, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and other weapons charges.
University of Utah Dean of Students Lori McDonald spoke about Guo with visible emotion at the first Oct. 31 press conference.
“He touched so many of our community, both students, faculty, staff, and I know he was very active in the community,” McDonald said. “We are so very deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this beloved son, friend and student.”
Guo worked as a peer mentor in the University of Utah’s International Student and Scholar Services office. According to his bio, he came to the U.S. in 2012 and dreamed of one day having his own consulting company “to help more people feel good about themselves.”
He enjoyed outdoor adventures like skiing and skydiving, as well as dancing, modern fashion and French bulldogs. His Facebook page has become a memorial for those who loved him to post pictures and share memories.
Ricky Almanzor, a friend of Guo’s from the City Creek YSA 3rd Ward, said Guo loved making people happy.
“Whether it was his smile or just a warm hug, he would just always show that compassion toward us,” he said.
Almanzor is an LDS Business College student from Seattle, Washington who said Guo reached out to him when Almanzor moved to Utah in January. Almanzor also recalled an experience Guo related about a time he was nearly in a car crash; Guo said he was glad it was him because something worse might’ve happened to someone else.
“It showed us a lot about his character and that he was willing to be there and that he cared more about others beside himself,” Almanzor said.
Nathan James, a first year Master of Public Administration student at BYU, met Guo while Guo was serving as an LDS missionary at BYU. James said in an email that both he and Guo were closely involved in the Chinese community at BYU, and he got to know Guo through the people Guo was teaching.
James described Guo as both a dedicated missionary with a strong testimony of the gospel and as a warm, caring friend who “had an ability to make you feel like someone.”
James added that Guo was an equally dedicated student who “was not only passionate about many things, but took concrete steps to make a difference in the world.” James also said Guo would want to be remembered “as a caring, ambitious person who loved God.”
Almanzor said Guo would want to be remembered for his happiness; he also said Guo would tell his friends to never give up, to have faith and to enjoy life to the fullest.
“We were certainly blessed to have known him … in the time that he was here,” Morgan said.
During the first Oct. 31 press conference, University of Utah President David Pershing said Guo’s family in China have been notified and are “understandably devastated.” Arrangements are currently being made for them to come to Salt Lake City.
“As a university community, we offer our condolences to his family, friends and the faculty and staff that knew and worked with ChenWei,” McDonald said during the press conference.