Olsen and friends Sarah Schlesinger and Abby Gray had all attended high school with Sonstroem, 25, and had gathered on the usually bustling Liacouras Walk exactly 72 hours after their friend committed suicide there by shooting himself in the head. The shooting took place about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, within a few yards of a 7-Eleven, Maxi's Pizza, Subs and Bar, and Barton Hall.
Sonstroem, according to his profile on an art-networking site, had attended Temple's Tyler School of Art and considered himself an "interactive designer and illustrator." Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said Sonstroem was not a current student and was last registered in the summer of 2010. It was unclear if Sonstroem had earned a degree, but Betzner said he completed all his classes.
Schlesinger, who attended Delaware County Christian School with Sonstroem, said he was working as a security guard, not an artist, and living in Fishtown. Sonstroem's friends and family, formerly of Berwyn, did not return requests for comment.
"I had talked to him recently and he said he wanted to get back into art," Schlesinger said.
None of three friends would speculate why he committed suicide in the middle of campus.
"It's very busy, if not the busiest place on the whole campus," said Austin Burkey, a Tyler student who stopped to look at the memorial.
On the networking website Coroflot.com, Sonstroem's art included Web designs for a Clint Eastwood site, Abraham Lincoln robots and tribute sites to Japanese superheroes.
"He was into the quirkiest stuff," Olsen said. "Really cheesy stuff from the '70s and '80s."