A Calgary woman shot to death outside a Mexican nightclub had been fulfilling a dream to take classes outside Canada to improve her skills and absorb another culture, friends said yesterday.
Kristen Deyell, 20, died early Friday after leaving a bar in Guadalajara with friends she had met there since arriving in Mexico on a student-exchange program.
Police are continuing their homicide investigation into what led to the death of Ms. Deyell and a Mexican male companion, Cesar Agusto Pulido Mendoza, 23.
The two were in a truck with two men when shots were fired from a car shortly after a scuffle at a Mexican bar, according to initial police reports.
Ms. Deyell, a second-year business student at Mount Royal College in Calgary, was taking part in a popular international-exchange program, in which hundreds of the college's students enrolled over the past decade.
"There were shots fired, and she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," said her best friend, Andrea Mailer, 20.
Ms. Mailer, who attended the same junior high and high schools in Calgary, said Ms. Deyell will be missed for her bubbly personality, love of art and drama and a flair for salsa dancing.
"She wanted to go into business, wear nice suits and travel the world. She was also good at acting, and she did murals on her dad's walls.
And for Christmas and birthdays, she would do paintings for friends."
Ms. Deyell's mother, Cher Ewing, was visiting her daughter last week in Guadalajara but did not go out to the nightclub, Ms. Mailer said.
She said funeral arrangements will be announced this week. Besides Ms. Ewing, other family members include Ms. Deyell's two brothers and their father, Dave Deyell.
"Kristen loved her family and friends," Ms. Mailer said.
Reynald Doiron, a spokesman for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, said Canadian authorities are helping with the logistics of returning Ms. Deyell's body to Canada, possibly early this week.
He said he expects Mexican police to conduct a thorough investigation as swiftly as possible.
Details about the slayings are sketchy, but "our understanding is that she was coming out of a bar in the wee hours of Friday when a group of people wanted to pick on" one of her friends, Mr. Doiron said. "The identities and motivation behind this remain to be determined."
Ms. Deyell and her three friends attempted to leave the area of the bar when the two fatal shootings took place, he said. Early reports indicate that the driver of the truck carrying Ms. Deyell was not hurt and drove to a clinic to get treatment for the injured passenger.
"She had such an outgoing personality, and was such a very nice girl," said Jacquie Smawley, 22, who worked as a server with Ms. Deyell at a Brewsters pub and restaurant in Calgary.
Kendell Woo, 20, another one of Ms. Deyell's friends who still works at the restaurant, paid tribute to a woman who would relish getting into the rough and tumble of soccer games, and also had an artistic side.
"She wanted to be successful," said Ms. Woo, who spoke with her friend over the phone just two days before the shooting.
"Her mom had showed up, and she was so excited. She told me that she was sitting by the pool. She had been studying for exams coming up, and she was relaxing and having a great time."
During an emotionally draining weekend, regular customers at Brewsters hugged the servers who knew Ms. Deyell, Ms. Woo said yesterday from the restaurant.