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    Suspect in Groton killings remembered as a gentle jazz musician

    Friends of the family involved in the Groton, MA, quadruple murder, second and third from left, who did not wish to give their names, attend a public vigil with other townspeople held at the town field in Groton, MA. Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. CREDIT: Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe
    Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe
    Friends of the family involved in the Groton quadruple murder who did not wish to give their names attended a public vigil Sunday.

    GROTON — Before Orion Krause was charged with brutally bludgeoning four people to death in Groton Friday, the 22-year-old musician impressed audiences with his skills as a talented jazz drummer.

    Now those who know him are trying to reconcile the Oberlin College graduate they knew as a gentle man with the suspect who police said committed that violent crime.

    “It’s a hard thing to think through mentally. He was my friend; I feel really sad this happened to him,” said Louie Krauss, 23, who isn’t related to the suspect and was an Oberlin classmate. “He was such a nice guy.”

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    On Friday, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said police found four people dead at 80 Common St., and charged Krause with their murders.

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    Krause knew the victims, Ryan said at a news conference late Friday night, and the public is not in any danger. She called the deaths “a tragic incident of family violence” and said the victims were an elderly couple and two middle-aged women. They have not been publicly identified.

    A sister of Bertha Mae Parker, 68, said on Saturday that Parker was a caretaker from Louisiana working for the couple living in the home and she was among the four killed.

    A spokeswoman for Ryan’s office said Sunday that Krause, who lives in Rockport, Maine, would be arraigned Monday at Ayer District Court, but gave no further information.

    The deaths stunned Groton, a community of fewer than 11,000 residents, about 20 miles west of Lowell.

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    Josh Degen, chairman of the town’s selectmen, said residents have been fearful since news of the killings spread.

    “It appears that no one anywhere in this country is immune from this type of violence,” said Degen in a phone interview Sunday morning. “People have to develop a different mindset about respecting one another.”

    Late Sunday afternoon, about 200 people gathered on a field behind the town library for a vigil. Speakers offered thoughts and prayers to those affected by the deaths and gratitude to first responders who went to the scene.

    About 200 people gathered on a field behind the town library for Sunday’s vigil.
    Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe
    About 200 people gathered on a field behind the town library for Sunday’s vigil.

    The couple who were killed Friday had moved to Groton from Dover about 30 years ago, said Maurice Tremblay, who did construction on their home over the years.

    Tremblay, 65, a Pepperell resident, remembered the couple for their generosity and how they were “great with their kids.”

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    Their deaths were “quite a shock for sure,” Tremblay said.

    Krauss, who works as a news reporter in Baltimore, said former classmates that he has spoken with were stunned at hearing about the charges against Krause.

    Krauss said his friend was “one of the least likely people” to be involved in anything violent.

    While attending Oberlin, he said, they’d play music together, with Krauss on saxophone.

    “He was a really talented drummer. I enjoyed playing with him as a musician,” said Krauss, who described his former classmate as “really gentle, really friendly.”

    “He would make any situation fun,” said Krauss.

    Jamey Haddad, 65, an Oberlin professor of advanced improvisation and percussion, said Krause had been a student of his. “He was one of the sweetest individuals you’d ever want to meet,” said Haddad.

    In April, Krause had his senior recital. He wrote about it on Facebook, calling it “a celebration of what I have learned about music. . . during my time at Oberlin.”

    On Saturday night, Oberlin organized a gathering so students and staff could talk about their feelings after learning of the charges against Krause.

    “It was a shock to everyone to feel this,” said Haddad.

    Haddad said students at the school grow close as they spend so much time together training and performing.

    “The kids play all day long together,” said Haddad. “It’s a really tight group of people who get to know each other.”

    Haddad said faculty members work with students who have a wide variety of backgrounds and, in some cases, challenges.

    Oberlin deals with issues as they come up in a “highly professional” and effective manner, but “there are so many types and kinds and deep problems,” said Haddad.

    “There are some problems you can’t fix,” said Haddad.

    Years earlier, Krause attended CITYterm at the Masters School, according to his Facebook profile. On its website, the program is described as a 16-week program for high schoolers to learn on the Masters School campus in New York.

    Krause’s musical career also included performing as a drummer with Mostly Brothers & Company, a five-member group from Maine, according to a Facebook post from the band.

    Before attending Oberlin, Krause graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, Maine.

    The school’s principal, Shawn Carlson, said staff will meet Monday to “check in with one another.”

    “Those that I have spoken with are shocked and saddened,” Carlson said in an e-mail. “By all accounts he was well-liked and a talented young man.”

    Globe correspondent JD Capelouto contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.