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Family of Kalamazoo shooting victims try to heal

Associated Press

Kalamazoo, Mich. — Relatives of two Kalamazoo men who were killed in a mass shooting last year have been working on healing.

Richard Smith

Rich and Tyler Smith were in a car dealership parking lot Feb. 20, 2016, when a gunman ambushed and fatally shot them, then drove away. Police say the Uber driver also fatally shot four women and critically injured two that day. Jason Dalton faces six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to murder and eight felony firearm counts in the mass shooting.

As the shooting’s anniversary approaches, Emily Lemmer and her mother Laurie Smith said that they still feel like they’re living in a fog, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported. They said they keep mementos of Rich and Tyler with them daily, but the pain feels like the incident just happened.

Tyler Smith

“I don’t want it to be past one year, because it’s almost like I have to face reality,” Smith said. “It’s been really hard losing a child and added onto that I don’t have my soul mate, the person that would normally get me through everything. I’m thankful that I still have Emily, but she has her life and I don’t want to be the third wheel everywhere. We’re very close and we do a lot together.”

Smith is helping plan a Forever Strong memorial project that will be unveiled at a community candlelight vigil on Monday.

“It’s kind of rediscovering what my purpose is and I know it’s definitely something to do with giving back to others,” she said. “That’s where I find any real joy anymore.”