The horrific events that unfolded on Saturday, February 20th in Kalamazoo shocked and traumatized citizens of the city more commonly known for its bustling student life, local breweries, appreciation of nature, art scene, and many more wonderful attributes.
Jason Brian Dalton, a husband and father of two, was the lone shooter who made national news after murdering six people and critically injuring two others over the span of only 5 hours.
The first warning signs were present at 5:30 p.m. when Dalton was allegedly driving erratically and refused to stop while with an Uber client, forcing the passenger to eventually jump from the vehicle.
Around 6:00 p.m., he shot a woman who defended children on a playground outside of Meadows Townhomes, but her injuries were not fatal.
A little over four hours later, he murdered a man and his son outside of Seelye Ford Kia Dealership while they were looking at cars.
Shortly after, Dalton’s final attack was at the Cracker Barrel on 9th Street, where he murdered four people and injured two.
Among the victims were, a senior at Mattawan High School and his father, a retired teacher from Battle Creek and her three friends, a 14 year old girl and other innocent people enjoying a typical Saturday night.
He was arraigned on Monday, February 22nd for six charges of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight counts of felony firearm use.
A violent act of this level has not occurred in Michigan since 2011, when a man in Grand Rapids killed seven people. Unfortunately, as of February 2016, this is the 42nd mass shooting in the United States (a mass shooting is defined as an incident with four or more victims).
In response to the terrifying attacks, Kalamazoo pushes for “healing, not hatred” and there were two vigils organized to honor the innocent victims. At one vigil, a pastor clearly demonstrated kindness and grace by leading a prayer for the shooter.
Unfortunately, mass shootings seem to plaster local or national news regularly. Since 2000, the United States has had the most mass shootings in the world- an astounding 133. The next highest country is Germany, with only six.
This senseless violence has prompted even further arguments on gun control within the Kalamazoo community and nationally. President Barack Obama called Kalamazoo officials shortly after to pay his respects and discuss the incident.
“You’ve got families that are shattered today… We need to do more [concerning gun control],” said Obama, observing that his executive actions regulating firearm sales are sadly not enough to prevent the violence of mass shootings.
Students of Loy Norrix were not spared from the drama and the fear that enveloped the community on the 20th.
Junior James Rinehart said he was “scared for others and himself,” as the situation progressed that night.
Senior Grant Mitchell said, “I woke up [the next morning] to a text saying ‘get home safe’ and I heard what happened and just thought… that’s crazy.”
‘These things don’t happen here’ was a shared thought among many during the night of the shooting.
As a community, this event brought us closer and served as a reminder of how precious life is. Treasure the moments you have and the people who surround you.
Stay strong, Kalamazoo.