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Vigil at UCF tonight for journalist beheaded by militants


Published:   |   Updated: September 3, 2014 at 02:20 PM

A candlelight vigil for slain American Steven Sotloff is scheduled for tonight at the University of Central Florida, where he studied journalism for two years.

Sotloff, 31, was beheaded by the Islamic State militant group in a video released Tuesday. The United States verified the authenticity of the video Wednesday.

The vigil is planned for 9 p.m. at the reflection pond on the school’s Orlando campus.

The gathering is being hosted by the UCF chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, the UCF Gauntlet athletics fan group and the Syrian American Council.

“As Knights and Americans, we need to be together to lean on each other as the family we are,” reads a post on the SPJ chapter’s Facebook page. “Lets spread the word and remember this American hero.”

Sotloff, a native of the Miami area, attended UCF from 2002 to 2004 and was a pending journalism major. He worked as a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future student newspaper, covering breaking news, international issues and the 2004 presidential election.

He was a freelance journalist in the Middle East before he was taken hostage a year ago. He published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in a variety of publications, including Time and Foreigh Policy. Several focused on the plight of ordinary people in war-torn places.

University officials “join millions of people around the world who are outraged at this despicable and unjustifiable act,” UCF President John Hitt said Tuesday.

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