Woman who lost husband, son in Kalamazoo shooting spree speaks out

Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 23:23:05-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- It's hard to imagine the pain of losing a loved one, let alone two. But that's what Laurie Smith has been dealing with since the Kalamazoo shooting spree.

Smith's husband Richard, 53, and her 17-year-old son Tyler were gunned down Feb. 20 as they looked at cars at the Seelye Kia Ford Dealership on Stadium Drive.

"Sometimes I wish I could cry but I've cried so much that I can’t," said an emotional Laurie Smith. "I miss them more than I can explain in words."

Rich and Tyler Smith

Rich and Tyler Smith

Richard and Tyler were two of the six people shot and killed in the Feb. 20 shooting spree. Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye, Dorothy Brown and Barbara Hawthorne, were killed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. Abigail Kopf and Tiana Carruthers were severely injured.

Smith described the last couple of weeks since losing them as "empty" and "numb." The challenge has been in finding a new normal.

"I question how to move forward," said Smith. "I know how they would want us to move forward and to be strong and not cry all the time, whenever. So I’m just trying to do that but it’s really hard."

About a week later, her husband and son were laid to rest at services held at Calvary Bible Church in Kalamazoo. Over 600 people attended and celebrated their lives. She said her husband and son were a hilarious duo, always cracking a joke and lifting everyone's spirits.

"I want them to remember them for the loving and caring people that they were," said Smith. "You know always willing to give the shirt off their backs so to speak. And if they didn’t have one, they’d go find one."

Smith said the outpouring of love and support from the community has been tremendous. Tyler's girlfriend Alexis Cornash said it's been the same at school. Counseling groups have been set up for students to grieve if needed. She said classmates have been comforting her and sharing with her how much Tyler impacted them.

"Even people that didn’t know him, made an impact on them and how they see a life now," said Cornash. "They definitely see life better and they know now to live it to the fullest each and every day."

If you'd like to support the Smith family and other victims, visit the links below.

Smith Family:

Rich & Tyler Smith Memorial Soccer Fund

Smith Family GoFundMe page

Help Now! Fund

Mary L & Mary J Nye Funeral Fund

Abigail's Fight for Survival

Tiana Carruthers Survivor's Fund