Victims’ wife, mom fears for spree shooter’s soul

Kalamazoo Shooting Spree

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A day after Jason Dalton pleaded guilty to killing six people and seriously injuring two others, those left behind are still coming to terms with how the trial ended before it began.

Laurie Smith’s husband and 17-year-old son were killed in the Feb. 20, 2016, shooting spree in metro Kalamazoo.

“You know, it’s just a lot,” Smith said. “We’ve prepared for we don’t even know what for a really long time, and it was just like a whirlwind, complete whirlwind.”

Smith said she was in shock when she received word Monday morning that Dalton was pleading guilty to all of the charges linked to the deaths of her husband Rich and son Tyler, as well as the shootings that killed Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye and Mary Lou Nye and wounded Tiana Carruthers and Abbie Kopf.

“I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me,'” Smith recalled.

>>Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage

Smith says Dalton took the coward’s way out, but she understands that his guilty plea dramatically reduces the chance of his conviction being reversed on appeal.

“He can never hurt another person,” Smith said. “He can never do this to any other families.”

Smith plans to speak at Dalton’s sentencing hearing.

“Hopefully, (Dalton) will have time to think about it,” she said. “And hopefully, he’ll think about it. And hopefully he’ll hurt a little inside, even if it’s just a little, because I can’t fathom anyone would do what he did.”

As far as justice, Smith says that’s not up to her or the courts.

“I am afraid for (Dalton),” she said, “because I know that someday he will have to answer to God for this, and I would not want to be him.”

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