KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo shooting victim Tyler Smith was in his last year at Mattawan High School, spending half the day at the tech center in the marketing program.
People who knew the 17-year-old, who was killed while car shopping with his dad Saturday night, told 24 Hour News 8 he always had a smile on his face.
Mattawan Consolidated School Superintendent Dr. Robin Buchler said Sunday that while she didn’t know Smith personally, her son had a class with him.
“[My son has] known Tyler for years — they’re both seniors this year — and he just said he’s devastated,” Buchler told 24 Hour News 8. “He said I just can’t believe that… [Smith is] such a great kid and everybody likes him and he’s always has a smile on his face. I think [my son] dreads walking into class tomorrow and not seeing Tyler in that seat where he’s been all year, all semester.”
Buchler met with crisis counselors at Mattawan High School Sunday afternoon to lay out a plan to make sure students and teachers have the support they need in the coming days to work through the tragedy.
Buchler was particularly concerned about finding ways to help the students feel safe and said student have been chatting on social media all day, with some of them saying they’re scared and frightened by the sheer randomness of the tragedy. A big focus for the crisis team will be helping kids process what happened to Smith.
Tyler Smith had a great love for cars. He and his father, Rich Smith, were at the Seelye Ford KIA dealership on Stadium Drive around 10 p.m. looking at cars when they were fatally shot.
Jason Dalton, the suspect in that shooting, and two other shootings that night, is in police custody and will be arraigned Monday on murder charges.
24 Hour News 8 has also been talking to those who knew the four women who were killed at Cracker Barrel in Richland Township after the Smiths were shot at the car dealership.
One of them, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, was a retired teacher.
The nephew of another victim, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne, said the ladies were doing what they enjoyed doing — spending time together.
He believed they had seen a show at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo before heading to the restaurant and said the group, which included two other fatal shooting victims – 74-year-old Dorothy Brown and 63-year-old Mary Lou Nye – had gone to shows before.
24 Hour News 8 is still working to learn more about the victims, who will be mourned in the days and years to come.