Vigils honoring victims at WMU, Cracker Barrel

People link hands at a vigil outside the Cracker Barrel in Texas Township, outside of which four people were murdered in a shooting spree. (Feb. 23, 2016)


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Vigils were held at Western Michigan University and Cracker Barrel Tuesday night to honor the Kalamazoo shooting victims.

WMU’s vigil was held at the campus flagpoles, where flags are flying half-staff this week at the order of the governor to honor the six people killed in the shootings. The crowd lit candles, marched through campus and held a moment of silence.

Though the shooting spree didn’t actually reach campus, students said they wanted to unite and show that the school stands with the people of the community.

“We are all one … Western is a family, and even though it didn’t happen on our campus, this is our home. And it’s just showing that everyone is supportive here and we all love each other and we all want the best for each other,” WMU sophomore Eric Griggs-Hugan said.

“A lot of me and my friends were freaked out over the weekend not knowing where we could feel safe, but seeing that everyone was able to come together to still show support for each other and still pray for one another, it showed a lot of support for the community,” Hunter Winger, also a sophomore, added.

>>#KalamazooStrong: How you can help

The WMU Men’s Basketball team honored the victims by wearing “Kalamazoo Strong” T-shirts during warm-ups before Tuesday night’s game in Ypsilanti against Eastern Michigan University.

“A senseless act of violence does not define our city,” the team tweeted, along with the hashtags #RememberTheVictims and #KalamazooStrong.

A church held a vigil at the Texas Township Cracker Barrel at 6 p.m. The restaurant was the last site of three shootings on Saturday. Four people were killed and a 14-year-old girl was critically injured.

A total of six people were killed in Saturday’s shooting spree: 53-year-old Rich Smith, 17-year-old Tyler Smith, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown were killed.

Tiana Carruthers was the first person shot at an apartment complex and remains in the hospital where she is recovering. Abigail Kopf, 14, was also shot in the spree. She is still in critical condition at an area hospital, fighting for her life.

–24 Hour News 8’s Evan Dean contributed to this report.

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#KalamazooStrong: How you can help

Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage

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