FROSTBURG — — Two Frostburg State University students, including a young woman from Annapolis who would have celebrated her 20th birthday today, were killed in an early-morning apartment fire on Main Street.
Alyssa Salazar and Evan Kullberg apparently were trapped in a second-floor rear apartment in the two-story building that housed Malino's Pizza, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Bruce D. Bouch.
The cause of the fire, which was reported about 4 a.m., is under investigation.
Salazar was a 2008 graduate of Broadneck High School, according to a spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County schools.
Broadneck Principal David Smith said the school's faculty and staff were shocked by the news.
"Alyssa had a successful career here at Broadneck, contributing her talents as a model student and compassionate young lady," he wrote in an e-mailed statement. "Our thoughts are with her family during this very sad time."
The fire is the second deadly tragedy to hit the Western Maryland campus in less than a year.
In March, a university basketball player was shot and killed by another student in an early-morning confrontation that also injured a teammate. Tyrone Hall of Glen Burnie pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in October in the killing of Brandon Carroll of Waldorf.
"This is a particularly difficult time to absorb the impact of such a painful loss as we are otherwise focused on the tasks that face us this close to the end of the semester and year," Frostburg President Jonathan C. Gibralter said in a statement on the school's website. "It will be important that we take the time to reflect on this loss and its impact on our community and on Evan and Alyssa's loved ones."
A memorial vigil has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday at Frostburg's Harold J. Cordts Physical Education Center Main Arena, according to university officials.
According to Kullberg's biography on Linked In, a social-networking site, he became owner of Malino's Pizza after having managed the restaurant for less than three years. Kullberg bought the business with a partner when he was 21, an elder sister said.
"He always wanted to own his own business, and he did it," said Kristen Kullberg, a middle school teacher in Washington. She recalled that he began showing entrepreneurial spirit as a 4-year-old selling lemonade outside the family's home in Tenafly, N.J. "He'd always have to come up with new goals because he was constantly reaching his goals."
Kullberg, 23, a senior and liberal studies major, won a prize in a contest for entrepreneurs through his business plan development course in October. He had served in the Maryland Army National Guard five years ago as an aviation mechanic based at the Edgewood Armory, said Lt. Col. Charles Kohler.
Kristen Kullberg said her family moved to Maryland when her brother was in second grade and that he graduated from Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, where he was active in the school's Junior ROTC program.
Steven Dittmer, president of Kullberg's fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, spoke Friday afternoon at a brief outdoor memorial service on the Frostburg campus.
Kullberg once had studied part time, Dittmer said, but had resumed a full course load this semester. His friend enjoyed the outdoors, especially riding his dirt bike and motorcycle, and going off-road in his SUV.
"He just wanted everyone to get along and have a good time," said Dittmer, a senior who had known Kullberg since they had pledged the business fraternity together. "He always did see the good in people."
Kullberg and Salazar had dated off and on for two years, Dittmer said.
"She was a free spirit," he said. "She wanted to be around people, she wanted to be friends with everybody."
"A beautiful human being, loving, kind, amazing," Kristen Kullberg said of Salazar.
Fire officials believe the fire began in a common area near a first-floor apartment, behind the restaurant. It was not believed to be of suspicious origin, Bouch said.
One of the first-floor residents initially reported the blaze, and Salazar called 911 twice to report that she and Kullberg were trapped on the second floor, the deputy fire marshal said. The building's 10 other occupants were able to escape.