Kalamazoo victims were car shopping, enjoying a night out when rampage ended their lives

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A father and son looking at cars. A group of friends ready to go home after a night out. They doubtless thought it was just a regular night in Kalamazoo.

All of them had their lives cut short over the weekend by a shooting rampage in the Michigan city. Jason Brian Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver, is in custody, accused of opening fire on them while driving from location to location.

The victims’ autopsies are complete, and the cause of death for all of them is multiple gunshot wounds, said Joanne Catania, the chief investigator for the Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Authorities don’t yet know what prompted the shootings — first at an apartment complex, then at a car dealership, and finally outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

What they do know is that over the course of seven hours, six people were killed and two were injured.

This is what we know about them:

Richard Smith

The first fatalities occurred at the second shooting scene. A father and son were shot at the Seelye Kia of Kalamazoo car dealership on Stadium Drive.

Richard Smith, 53, was out car shopping with his son just before 10:30 p.m., according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

In a Facebook post, Richard’s wife, Laurie, wrote, “Laying in bed trying to comprehend what has happened in the past 24+ hrs … wishing its all a bad dream and they’ll be here when i wake up. I want to thank everyone for the unbelievable outpouring of care, concern, love, prayer, meals, help … and everything that you’ve shown me and my family. I am numb. … I don’t know what to say or do and so i wanted to make sure everyone knows how much we appreciate everything … because I am often not thinking clearly and may not say it when i should.”

Tyler Smith

Smith had a 17-year-old son, Tyler, who was a senior at Mattawan High School.

Mattawan School District Superintendent Robin Buchler told the Gazette that news of the younger Smith’s death left his classmates in disbelief.

“We have kids that are just really panicking a bit,” she said.

Tyler was enrolled in the marketing entrepreneurship program and had been a student at Mattawan schools since the eighth grade, Buchler told the Gazette. She told CNN affiliate WOOD that Tyler was well-liked and always had a smile on his face.

His mother said on Facebook that she loved Tyler and her husband more than anything else and she now feels “lost without my boys.”

“My precious baby boy … taken away before he even graduated from high school. … I am so grateful to have been blessed with a sweet, caring, witty, handsome boy for almost 18 years … so proud of who he had become as a young man. I miss you, bud and love you more than life itself.”

The Portage-based Kingdom Soccer Club, for whom Tyler played, posted on Facebook that its thoughts and prayers were with the youngster’s family.

“Tyler was a talented soccer player, a great teammate, and an exemplary young man,” the post said.

Barbara Hawthorne

Barbara Hawthorne died along with three friends in the third and final shooting, which took place in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. The group had attended a performance at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium earlier that evening, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The group had returned to the Cracker Barrel, where they’d had dinner earlier in the evening, to retrieve their cars, a Chevrolet Cruze and an Oldsmobile minivan.

Hawthorne hailed from Battle Creek, Michigan. She worked for Kellogg Co. for 22 years and retired in 2008 as a senior analyst for transportation and distribution, the company said.

“We are deeply saddened by these tragic events and brokenhearted to learn that one of the victims … belonged to our Kellogg family,” a company statement read.

Debbie Evans posted to her Facebook page that “Hawthorne was one of the sweetest, and perhaps purely gentle people I came across in all my years with Kellogg.”

Police say Hawthorne was found in the back seat of Mary Jo Nye’s Chevrolet Cruze.

Mary Lou Nye and Mary Jo Nye

Mary Lou Nye, 62, and Mary Jo Nye, 60, were sisters-in-law who had been friends since they were roommates at Western Michigan University, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. Mary Lou met and married one of Mary Jo’s older brothers, and the couple had been married for about 40 years. He is a retired auto mechanic suffering from an autoimmune disorder, the couple’s son, Bart Nye, told the Gazette.

Mary Lou Nye was the youngest of five children and doted on her grandson, according to Bart Nye. She worked as the manager of the South Haven branch of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office before it closed several years ago. Since then, she’d worked at a day care center.

Mary Jo Nye was the sixth in a group of seven siblings, Bart said. She was a teacher at Calhoun Community High School and could inspire troubled students to stay in school, and she liked to sew and quilt, he said.

Tara Egnatuk, the school assistant for Calhoun Community High School, told the Lansing State Journal that even though Mary Jo retired about four years ago, she continued to attend graduation every year.

“She became like a mother to a lot of kids,” Egnatuk said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover their funeral expenses, and a woman identifying herself as a former student posted a tribute there, calling “Ms. Mary Jo” one of her most influential teachers.

Jesica Campbell continued, “It hurts my heart to know you won’t be making it to my wedding, that you won’t see my daughter grow up, that I’ll never get to take German lessons, that i can never even share a funny English post with you on facebook. … May you light up the heavens with your warmth and knowledge and caring heart. You will be truly missed.”

Bart Nye told The Kalamazoo Gazette that the sisters-in-law had maintained their relationship through periodic outings like the one they were on Saturday night.

Mary Lou Nye was found at the wheel of the minivan, and Mary Jo was in the compact car, according to the Michigan State Police.

Dorothy Brown

Patrick Mallon Jr. says he knew his 74-year-old neighbor as Judy Brown. She was a good person and a quiet neighbor who “minded her own business,” he told CNN.

“She’d watch our cat for us when we’d go away,” said Mallon, who has lived in his Battle Creek home for 40 years. “We could trust her. That’s for sure.”

Brown lived alone, Mallon said, but from what he could recall of their conversations, she had two sons who lived out of state. Mallon grows cucumbers, he said, and he’d share some with Brown after the summer harvest.

“She’d take them and usually make something and we’d get something in return,” he said.

Another neighbor described Brown as “the sweet little old lady of the neighborhood.”

Daniel Arnold lived next door to her for three years and said most people knew her as “Judy.” He told CNN affiliate WXYZ that she lived with her two cats, and even though she suffered from emphysema, he saw her regularly.

“It was an everyday thing,” Arnold said. “If she wasn’t out here doing something in the front yard, she was in the backyard taking care of things.”

Unity Christian Church in Battle Creek said in a statement that Hawthorne and Brown were “beloved friends and active members.” Brown was the treasurer on the church’s board of trustees. The church said its congregants are “left feeling dazed in disbelief.”

“Numerous prayer vigils are in process throughout the local community, and we invite you to add your compassionate thoughts and prayers to this growing consciousness of love, peace and healing,” the statement said.

Brown attended Lakeview High School in Battle Creek and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, according to her Facebook page.

Brown’s body was found in the rear seat of Mary Jo Nye’s compact car, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

The two victims who lived

One woman was injured during the first shooting incident. She was in an apartment complex with her three children and is expected to recover. Police have not released her name.

They have also not released the name of the eighth victim, who was shot at the restaurant. She is a 14-year-old girl who was initially thought to have been killed but is now listed in critical condition, according to state police.

The girl was being kept on life support at Bronson Methodist Hospital so her organs could be donated, Michigan State Police First Lt. Dale Hinz said. While her mother was holding her hand, she suddenly squeezed back, Hinz said, adding, “the only word to describe it is ‘wow.’ ”

Continuing coverage here.