MISSOULA, Mont. - At Big Sky High School, friends are grieving over the loss of 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede, who was shot in a garage in Missoula's Grant Creek neighborhood Sunday and died later that day.
"When I heard the news, I just had a sleepover with some friends, and my friend called me and I just thought it was a bad dream, like I didn't know what happened. It didn't really hit me until yesterday when I saw everyone at school," said Chance Maes.
"He was one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. He was always just there for you," said Zack Plasmier.
Maes and Plasmier are two close friends of Dede, and had nothing but positive things to say.
"He's just a nice person and everyone liked him. He had a lot of good qualities," said Maes.
"He would just make everyone smile because he was just so funny too," said Plasmier.
Dede was the first friend Plasmier made at school after Plasmier transferred to Big Sky from Delaware. Plasmier and Dede liked to play FIFA, a soccer video game, and drink Sprite together.
"Whenever you wanted a drink, he would say, ‘Do you want a soda?' so we always just knew we would have a Sprite in our hands," said Plasmier.
Maes knew Dede well, too; they were neighbors.
"I'd give him rides to school, rides home, and we went to track together there at the end," said Maes.
"Every girl loved him. Just the way he dressed, how he looked, everybody thought he was good looking," said Plasmier.
The friends are shocked and shaken. For now, they have each other to lean on.
"I just know that he's in a better place now and hopefully one day, I can see him again someday," said Plasmier.
Big Sky High School is offering support throughout the rest of the week to students.
"A very huge tragedy for our school district and our community. We're deeply saddened. We give our deepest sympathies to the families involved. As a school district, we're doing everything possible to support our students and our staff," said Alex Apostle, the superintendent for Missoula Public County Schools.
Apostle says the school is committed to helping the students feel comfortable.