SOUTH SALT LAKE — Thompson Kamara’s friends say he wasn't just an outgoing and expressive person, he was a “super extrovert.”
“First time we hung out, I could tell there was a difference between him and I,” said Dante Rios. “So I literally went home and looked up introvert vs. extrovert and he’s the epitome of an extrovert.”
His energy, his charisma, his smile and most notably his laugh, immediately drew people to “Thomp,” or as his friends called him, “Whomp.”
“There’s nobody that could even top that energy. Like, the moment he walked into a room, everybody was turning eyes. Any why? I think it was his laugh. He’d always just be laughing at stuff,” said Tony Muriel. “You just don’t have a dull moment with him.”
“He had the golden touch. Everything he touched turned to gold, the King Midas touch. That was him,” added Rios.
That laugh, energy and infectious smile were forever silenced on Dec. 30 when Kamara, 21, was standing outside the place where he worked, the Corner Stop store, 203 E. Hampton Ave. (1200 South), with other people when a gray Nissan Altima pulled up about 11:50 p.m. and a gunman got out of the vehicle and fired seven to 10 shots, according to witnesses.
Kamara was killed and another man was critically injured. No arrests had been made as of Monday and no possible motive had been released by Salt Lake police.
Friends of Kamara, however, insist he was not the intended target.
Just 45 minutes earlier, he and his friends who formed a music and fashion design collective since high school called Outset, had been performing a rap concert in Murray. Kamara, who had a job at the Corner Stop, was not working that night. He had stopped by after his show to pick up a paycheck and give another person a ride home, his friends said.
“The dude was murdered completely innocently. And to bring up false allegations toward a store that he basically slaved at ...” said Muriel, referencing rumors that Kamara was shot due to drug or gang involvement.
“It was totally a wrong place, wrong time type of deal. It totally had nothing to do with him. And it was just cold blood,” Rios said.
Muriel, who knew Kamara since first grade, said he was born in Sierra Leone and moved to America with his family a short time later. He said Kamara remained mostly private about his home life. His mom ran a home day care, Muriel said, so there were always a lot of people in Kamara’s home — sometimes multiple families — which meant he had to share a room with others.
Kamara attended Dilworth Elementary in Salt Lake City, and later spent time at both Highland and Olympus High schools. His friends acknowledge he could be troublemaker in school, like the time in fourth grade when he hid in a bin of PE balls and waited for his teacher to enter the classroom. Kamara popped out of the ball bin, nearly giving the unexpecting teacher a heart attack, his friends recalled.
But mostly, it was lighthearted, youthful fun, such as the time Kamara and his friends were at a store and applauded every person who came in the door.
It was during high school that Muriel, Rios and Nolan Leyba created their Outset collective, which included music and fashion.
“We looked at it as a way we could express ourselves, and he took that and just made it something else. Thompson before that, he didn’t have anything else,” Muriel said. “This was the only thing that he had. So to see him go, it seems like it’s the last thing that we have of him.”
His friends say they have numerous recordings of Kamara’s music stored in Soundcloud, which they may release later when it’s appropriate. Kamara was an artist and everything he did was a way to express himself, Rios said.
His friends say Kamara had been a fashion influence in the community since 2013, to the point that others would ask Thompson to wear their brands so it would be associated with him. Thompson knew he wasn’t going to college, his friends said, so he dedicated himself to his fashion and music.
“That was his college. That was his aspiration. This brand was his aspiration. This brand now is him,” Muriel said.
Kamara and his partners even each adopted the name of their collective as their own last names. Kamara always went by Thomp Outset, according to his friends. Muriel, Rios and Leyba have also each adopted “Outset” as their last names. Rios said he was in the process of having his name legally changed to Outset.
According to his friends, Kamara’s mother was his biggest supporter, and he wanted to look after her.
“He didn’t even want fame, He just wanted to make sure his family was taken care of at the end of the day, make sure he had enough money to take care of everyone who was around him,” Leyba said.
After he was killed, messages of condolence and tributes filled social media. A GoFundMe account set up to pay for funeral expenses met its goal in just days. An estimated 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held days after Kamara’s death.
“It was heartwarming, it was beautiful. Thompson would have loved every second of it,” said Leyba.
Friends say that outpouring of love and support shows the impact Kamara had on people.
“He touched every single person. He touched them in an incredible way,” Muriel said. “You might not have been Thompson’s best friend, but to everybody else, Thompson was their best friend.
“Thompson was the most beautiful soul. The most beautiful, genuine soul. That might sound cliche, everyone is the most genuine, cool person once they pass away. But look at what the community is doing. Look at how many people Thompson has brought together. It’s so beautiful.”