- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Diren Dede was genuine, generous and a good friend, several Big Sky High School students and soccer teammates shared Monday.

“He was always just that perfect friend to hang out with,” said Dana Kowachek, a teammate.

He also was a heartthrob with a contagious laugh.

“All the girls loved him,” said Sierra Lenox, a friend of Dede‘s.

The 17-year-old enjoyed playing pingpong and soccer, outdoor activities and sharing his culture with his host family and other students at Big Sky, where he was enrolled as a junior. He was open-minded, friendly, loved Sprite and dreamed of traveling the U.S. in an RV.

Early Sunday, the German exchange student’s life was cut short when he was shot inside the garage of a Missoula residence.

Residents of the home told police they heard someone in the garage; the 29-year-old male resident went out the front door and shot Dede in the garage. Markus Hendrik Kaarma faces a felony charge of deliberate homicide.

Dede’s host family declined to speak about the incident, but said the events don’t mesh with the boy they knew.

Randy Smith and Kate Walker were only supposed to serve as the “welcome family” for Dede last summer. However, after only a few days, they asked to keep him throughout the school year because of the immediate relationship they forged, Walker said Monday.

“We just really bonded with him really quickly,” she said.

Often, the three would talk about politics and Dede’s Turkish culture, which the teenager identified with more strongly than the German culture he was raised in, she said. He introduced his host parents to Turkish coffee, food and music.

“He was just so easy to talk to,” Walker said.

Once while at the mall, Dede met another man who spoke Turkish. The duo had a spontaneous conversation full of chitchat and about their travels, said Chance Maes, a friend and neighbor in the Grant Creek area.

“And that was the happiest he’d been here,” Maes said.

The conversation was a testament to Dede’s pride in being Turkish, Maes said.

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