KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Six victims killed in a shooting spree Saturday night in Kalamazoo have been identified by officials.
Michigan State Police identified the victims who were shot in two vehicles at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant on 9th Street. Authorities said all four, and a 14-year-old girl who is currently in critical condition, were shot by Jason Dalton, 45, of Kalamazoo.
Police say Dalton approached a Chevrolet Cruze and an Oldsmobile Silhouette mini-van at about 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the restaurant and then opened fire. The victims are:
- Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Michigan. She was the lone occupant of the mini-van.
- Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek. Driver of the Chevrolet.
- Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek. Passenger in the Chevrolet.
- Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek. Passenger in the Chevrolet.
The 14-year-old girl was also in the Chevrolet.
Two others shot and killed at the Seelye Ford KIA Dealership on Stadium Drive were identified by police as Tyler Smith, 17, who was a senior at Mattawan High School, and his father, Richard Smith, 53.
Mary Jo Nye is being remembered as a teacher who could help even the most reluctant students become better writers.
Tara Egnatuk, assistant director of the Calhoun Community High School, said she worked for six years with Nye at the alternative school that serves many at-risk students.
Egnatuk told FOX 17 Nye helped write the charter to create the school. Egnatuk spent hours in Nye’s classroom and was mentored by her during the time they worked together.
She said Nye was able to get students to become better writers by taking “baby steps” to get them to open up. She adds that Nye “played a really integral part in a lot of kids’ lives.”
Relatives have started a joint GoFundMe for Mary Jo and Mary Lou Nye.
To me, they were the mother and the aunt of a man who I have been friends with since grade school. To many others, they were wives, mothers, daughters, family and friends,” wrote Hunter Kim, the creator of the page.
A neighbor of Dorothy Brown said she would always wave and say hello when she drove off to the mall, where she walked for exercise, and was known to come over often with herbs she had grown in her garden, the Associated Press reports.
Patrick Mallon Jr. told the AP he didn’t know Dorothy Brown all that well but what he did know he liked.
After she moved in two doors down in Battle Creek about 10 years ago, the 74-year-old woman everyone knew as Judy would come over with herbs she had grown in her garden and was thrilled when Mallon’s granddaughters came over to her home to give her tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that they’d grown.
Mallon said whenever he and his wife went on vacation, it was Brown they’d ask to keep an eye on the house and feed their cat.
“She would give us a gift card to a nice restaurant, something like that,” he told AP.
Mallon said Brown had two grown sons, with one living in California and the other in Florida.
Mattawan Public Schools Supt. Robin Buchler and KDPS confirmed Tyler Smith and his father Richard were shot and killed outside a car dealership Saturday.
Teresa Phares, a former teacher at Mattawan High School, said she had Smith as a student in his 8th and 9th grade years.
“He was always a good kid, and very helpful and polite,” she told FOX 17. “He was well-liked by his peers.”
Buchler said the Mattawan Crisis team, Van Buren ISD Crisis Team, and the Gryphon Place staff will be on hand to offer grief counseling to students and staff beginning Monday.
Another woman was wounded earlier in the evening at the Meadows Townhomes on G Avenue. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff released a statement saying the woman is recovering, but she and the family do not want to be identified or speak with the media at this time.
Sheriff Richard Fuller told FOX 17 Monday morning the woman saved the lives of other children on the playground where Dalton allegedly started firing.
Relatives of the critically injured 14-year-old girl identified her as Abigail Kopf. The teens parents told media on Monday she “is alive and she is fighting for her life,” while she remains on a ventilator.
Kopf was with the woman she calls grandma, Barbara Hawthorne, and two other victims when shots rang out Saturday night in the Cracker Barrel parking lot.
“We are devastated by the loss of Grandma Barb and her wonderful friends. We will miss them dearly,” said Gene Kopf, Abigail’s father. “Barb was a special part of our lives our thoughts go out to her family.”
FOX 17 is still working to learn more about all of the victims in the shooting spree.
A candlelight vigil for the victims was held Sunday night at Centerpoint Church in Oshtemo Township.
Authorities say they believe Dalton acted alone in the shootings.
Dalton was arrested at about 12:30 a.m. in downtown Kalamazoo and was charged Monday with 16 counts, including six counts of open murder.