Shooting spree victim’s son looks toward healing

Kalamazoo Shooting Spree

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Jason Dalton, who killed six people in the Kalamazoo area nearly three years ago, will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty last month to all 16 counts against him, including six counts of murder.

Father and son Rich and Tyler Smith, Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye and Mary Lou Nye were killed in Dalton’s shooting spree in metro Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016. Tiana Carruthers, then 25; and Abbie Kopf, then 14; were seriously wounded but survived.

The sentencing hearing gives survivors and victims’ families the chance to talk directly to Dalton before his mandatory sentence is handed down. About 12 people are expected to give victim impact statements.

“I feel like I really need to go through this and to address the court and address (Dalton),” Judy Brown’s son Jeff Reynolds told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.

Reynolds said the end of the criminal case will not bring him closure.

“The best that we can hope for is that at least this chapter of the story will be closed, and we can move forward and start looking toward healing,” he said.

When asked what he will say to Dalton during the hearing, Reynolds said, “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say to him yet.”

Before her death, Brown had booked a flight to see her son, who lives on the West Coast.

“There’s no sentence and no justice that’s going to bring back our loved ones, and so the best that we could really hope for is that he would be locked up for life with no chance of parole, and that’s really the best outcome that we could hope for,” Reynolds said.

He said the best way to honor his mom is to live by her example.

“We only go around once in this life, so enjoy it and try to make someone else’s world a little bit better than how you found it,” he said.

The Tuesday sentencing hearing will air live on WXSP and stream live on woodtv.com beginning at 10 a.m. Whether Dalton himself will speak when given the chance to do so is unknown.

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