WEST BABYLON, N.Y. - Two childhood friends who were shot dead in an Arizona parking lot after a night of celebrating were buried side by side on Wednesday following funerals attended by hundreds of sobbing friends and relatives.
"I just remember laughing with her any time I was with her; that's the type of girl she was," Taylor Palkovitch said of Carol Kestenbaum, who was celebrating her 20th birthday early Sunday when she and Nicole Schiffman were killed near the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe. "It really is awful."
The pair, who were friends from high school on Long Island, were ambushed and gunned down by Joshua Mendel, who then shot himself dead, police said.
The first funeral was held for Schiffman, a journalism student at the University of Maryland.
"She had a passion for living; we must celebrate her life," Rabbi Charles Klein said at Schiffman's funeral, where her sister and parents sat in the front row. "No words can express our grief and pain, but she lives on in our hearts."
Barry Cohen, Schiffman's uncle, said that the young women's parents had wanted the friends to be buried side by side at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.
In her yearbook from John F. Kennedy High School, Schiffman wrote: "Wouldn't life be perfect if girls didn't cause drama, boys weren't so confusing, nothing was regrettable and goodbyes only meant until tomorrow."
Mourners gathered later Wednesday at a funeral home in Hempstead, where Kestenbaum was remembered. The families of the slain women scheduled the funerals four hours apart so each could join the other in mourning.
"These girls were always there for one another," said Judy Gold, whose daughter was a close friend of Kestenbaum. "They were going to be best friends for life."
Tempe police have said that Mendel, a Collins College graphic arts student, was angry at Kestenbaum, a sophomore education major at Arizona State University, because she disapproved of his relationship with a friend.
That relationship came to an end around the Super Bowl weekend, according to a published report.
On Feb. 4, Mendel called police seeking help for problems he was having with alcohol. He also told relatives around the same time that he was feeling suicidal, his family said.