She was an actress with a role in a major Hollywood film already under her belt and a TV appearance yet to air. But there was much more to Maple Batalia than just on-screen beauty – the 19-year-old university student often crammed late into the night and dreamed of becoming a doctor.
To those who knew her, it was clear the young woman was destined for big things. But Ms. Batalia’s loved ones are struggling to come to grips with the news that her promising life has been cut short.
Ms. Batalia was shot early Wednesday morning on the third floor of Simon Fraser University’s Surrey parkade. She was rushed to hospital, where she died. No arrests have been made and police have not disclosed a motive, although they’ve told students it’s believed to have been an isolated incident.
Lissa Lloyd, president and owner of Lloyd Talent in Vancouver, spent much of Wednesday cancelling bookings that Ms. Batalia had worked hard to land.
“She had a beautiful demeanour and it came across well on camera. … Her career in film and television was just taking off,” she said.
Ms. Lloyd said Ms. Batalia came into the agency several years ago and the two quickly bonded. Ms. Lloyd called her a sweet girl with spark, personality and intellect well beyond her age.
Last year, Ms. Batalia had a small role in the Hollywood film Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, which was made in Vancouver. Just weeks ago, she filmed her last role, in a television series that Ms. Lloyd would not name. “That will be her last moment in television,” she said.
Ms. Batalia’s family was devastated over her death.
“She was the most precious thing of my life,” her father, Harkirat Batalia, told CTV News, calling his daughter “a brilliant child.”
Sergeant Peter Thiessen, spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, held a news conference steps from the scene of the shooting on Wednesday morning. Yellow evidence markers lay near a red vehicle where the shooting occurred.
Sgt. Thiessen said police are working through several theories and scenarios. They do not have a suspect in custody, and Sgt. Thiessen wouldn’t disclose whether a shooter has been identified.
He declined comment on whether a current or former boyfriend might have been responsible. “I am not in a position to confirm who we might believe to be a suspect, if, in fact, we have any.”
Sgt. Thiessen said he also could not comment on whether the shooting was targeted or random. He said it appears unlikely the shooting was linked to gang violence, although police haven’t definitively ruled it out.
Sgt. Thiessen tried to reassure students they’re safe on campus. “Other than the fact that this homicide appears to have occurred adjacent to the Simon Fraser campus, other than that fact, we don’t feel that the student body and the leadership of the Simon Fraser University campus needs to be unduly alarmed.”
University spokesman Don MacLachlan’s voice broke as he told reporters that students were near the scene of the shooting.
“They are very shocked by this, as is the university,” he said, his eyes tearing up. “The university is making available counselling at the Surrey campus for anyone who feels they need it. That counselling will be available for as long as it is needed.”
Phil Ackerman, president of L2 Models, represented Ms. Batalia for her modelling work. He said he spoke with her as recently as Sunday, but knew nothing about her personal life.
“She is a person who was super intelligent, very, very articulate, very focused, probably one of the most likeable individuals you could ever meet,” he said.
Ruthdol Ywaya took an acting class with Ms. Batalia and called her a charming, innocent person. She said she recalled performing a comedic scene together in which they played roommates fighting over a toothbrush.
Some friends took to social media to express their grief.
“R.I.P. Maple Batalia, you were a sweet girl. We were all lucky to know you,” said one Twitter user.