Hundreds gather at Cracker Barrel to remember shooting victims

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 23:35:32-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Support for the lives lost in Saturday's tragic shooting spree have reached far beyond West Michigan. As the initial shock of this tragedy starts to subside, people are turning to one another in a time of grieving. They're remembering the lives lost and trying to heal.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of people showed up at the Cracker Barrel where four victims tragically lost their lives over the weekend. The idea for the vigil came from local pastor, Dori Beltz. She told FOX 17 she was eating at Cracker Barrel Monday night and not one person showed up from the time she arrived to the time she left. Thanks to her, that all changed on Tuesday.

"I just don’t think it crossed people's mind that Cracker Barrel would be hit like it was," said Beltz.

Leaving a community and restaurant, hurting.

"It’s not fair that what happened here is effecting their business," the pastor said.

Beltz decided to help out and invite a few friends to help boost business.

"Then, we decided lets add the prayer element,[we] got a few people involved with that and it just took off from there, " she said.

It was a time to gather and honor the victims involved.

"I think there is an element of fear a little bit in the community," Beltz said.

Members prayed for hope and for fear to vanish sooner rather than later.

Beltz told FOX 17 Tuesday's vigil served as a reminder that through darkness, comes light.

"We can do this together, you know, by being together."

They're surrounding each other with love and support and it's two things Bonnie Newbern said she needed.

"It’s healing, you know, it gives you a sense of peace and support form everybody around," said Newbern.

On Tuesday, Newbern said Barbara Hawthorne, Mary jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye and Dorothy Brown were all close friends.

"We’re all here together for the same purpose, a lot of these people didn’t even know my friends, but they came in support of them."

Sara Stockinger of Kalamazoo also came out to lend her support.

"We are not a people of fear, we’re a community that loves for people," said Stockinger.

They're people rallying together and standing strong.

"It’s very unfortunate what’s gone on. Now the focus, it’s absolutely true needs to be on the victims’ families, helping them mend," Beltz said.

All first responders were given and free meal and Cracker Barrel announced they're donating $10,000 to the Battle Creek Community Foundation to support the victims and their families.