Chris Joyce was counting down the days until graduation. His best friends at Salem State University say the 23-year-old was so excited about being the first in his family to graduate from college, that he wanted to be first in line to pick up his cap and gown.
Those friends tearfully talked about the last time they saw him Friday, just hours before he and 58-year-old Clayborn Blair were shot and killed in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
"We were going to get some food and study for a final on Thursday. We were going to take that last final, then walk on that stage," said senior Harry Regis.
His friends say Friday, Joyce went home to Boston to see his family and drop off some of the things he had packed up from his dorm. That night, police say, he was an innocent victim in the deadly shooting.
Joyce was an accounting major.
"He's always engaged in class, he was happy to be there," said his classmate, Ralph Alexis. "He never missed a class and was always a good student."
Friends say Joyce was also active on campus and was part of The Brotherhood, a club that celebrates diversity. His friends are now trying to grapple with his death and how they won't be able to experience the joy of walking across the stage with him.
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"His smile would cover his whole face. His smile was bigger than his face," his friend, Johnny Cintron, said. "He don't got a face, he got a smile."
They say the only things bigger than his smile were his dreams.
"Chris grew up in a neighborhood that was very tough," said senior Muna Pikitayi. "He wanted something totally different than what his reality was. He wanted something more for himself, for his family, for all of us."