Matt and Aly

Matt and Aly

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New Park Planned to Memorialize Kalamazoo Shooting Spree

From our media partners at WOODTV:

The walkway up to the pavilion will be reminiscent of a deconstructed barn, which family members of victims said held symbolic importance to them. Concrete panels lining the walkway will bear the names of the six people killed and two people seriously wounded in the spree.

Top, left to right: Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne and Mary Jo Nye. Bottom, left to right: Mary Lou Nye, Rich Smith and Tyler Smith.

There will be features meant to draw attention to each of the three shooting scenes and the stories of the people involved. For example, a panel with Barbara Hawthorne’s name will be pitched out into the walkway, as if standing defensively in front of the panel with Abbie Kopf‘s name. The night of the shooting, Hawthorne is said to have shielded Abbie and refused treatment until Abbie was seen to.

The walkway will lead to the “crystalline” pavilion, which will be a place to hold community events.

There will also be an area honoring the first responders who served their community on the night of the shooting spree. The outdoor fields will be large enough to host soccer tournaments. To draw a connection to Battle Creek, where several of the victims were from, another barn frame will be built there.

Laurie Smith, whose husband Rich and son Tyler were killed in the shooting spree, spearheaded the effort to design the memorial. She said the idea started as a small soccer center and then grew.

She said she wants the space to inspire all who visit.

“I’m excited about continuing on the legacies of my husband and son and allowing all of the other victims and survivors to do the same,” she said.

It’s not yet clear precisely how much the project will cost, but VanderKlok said it will be more than hundreds of thousands of dollars. Funds have not yet been finalized. Organizers say they just started working with a fundraising group in Grand Rapids. The process will start with a feasibility study.

An online fundraiser is expected to be a major contributor to the project. Donations may be made at the new ForeverStrong Memorial Foundation website.

VanderKlok said there are plans to eventually add a component to the park that will honor the five people killed in the Kalamazoo cycling tragedy, which happened in June 2016.

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