BOSTON (CBS) – “Sorry I’m at a loss for words a little bit,” said Elijah Evans as he held back tears and remembered his friend S.J. Brooks.
“S.J. was committed and dedicated to making this world a better place and he inspired a lot of people to do that too,” said Evans about his friend and former work colleague.
Brooks, a former Boston University Student, died in a rare cougar attack. Brooks and a friend were mountain biking Saturday in Washington State when a 100-pound cat attacked them.
Officials say the pair tried to fend the animal off, but were unsuccessful.
“The fact that it stayed in close proximity with these folks and attacked, and stayed with them is highly, highly unusual,” said Capt. Alan Myers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In a statement Monday the Boston Center for the Arts, also remembered Brooks, who was a former employee at the nonprofit.
“We were shocked and saddened to hear about the death of S. J. Brooks. S. J. was a valued member of the BCA staff when they worked here in 2012 as a member of our Visual Arts team. They were a kind-hearted, generous, and wonderfully creative person with a deep commitment to their work in the community,” said BCA’s statement.
Brooks’ charity work extended beyond Boston Center for the Arts. Brooks was actively involved in the non-profit Bikes Not Bombs starting in 2009, and served as a Board Member from 2012-2016.
“He cared a lot about creating a space where people can feel welcome no matter who they are or what their background is,” said Evans.
Wildlife officials say the cougar was killed several hours after he attacked Brooks.
Officials also say there is no indication the victims taunted the cat. They are hopeful a necropsy can help explain why the animal was behaving oddly.
The last deadly attack in Washington state was back in 1924, when a 13-year-old boy was killed.