Shooting victim remembered as outgoing, generous

Kent County

LEIGHTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Shannon Schoen’s family and friends are just beginning to grapple with her tragic death.  

The 48-year-old mother of four was shot and killed at the Wyoming gas station where she worked Monday morning.

“She was the kind of mom that you could probably never have,” Schoen’s daughter Jordan Houle, 19, said Monday afternoon. “She was just outgoing. She was there every time I needed her.”

When asked what she wanted to tell her mom, she said, “I’d tell her I miss her and I love her.”

Houle’s father Tony Berkenpas said he met Schoen more than 20 years ago.

“And she was actually working at a gas station,” Berkenpas told 24 Hour News 8.

The couple married and had three kids together. They were married only five years, but Berkenpas said they remained close after divorcing.

“She’d come over on the weekends and have dinner,” he said.

Berkenpas didn’t like that Schoen worked third shift, which she had done for years. He said she was robbed four times in the about seven years that she worked at the Marathon on 28th Street at Buchanan Avenue. Houle didn’t like her mom’s late hours, either. She said she asked her mom to quit because it wasn’t safe.

But Schoen liked it and saw it as more than a second job. She knew her customers, her ex-husband said, and often helped them out.

“She would just open her wallet and go, ‘It’s just a regular, he just needs help with this or help with that,’” Berkenpas said.

He thinks that why the suspect targeted her.

“If the guy needed $20; if the guy needed $100, Shannon would have opened her wallet and gave it to him,” he said.

Berkenpas said the Marathon once had thick glass to protect workers from robberies, but the owner who bought the station about five years ago took it down. That owner was in the gas station when Schoen was shot, but wasn’t hurt.

“I’m really upset,” Berkenpas said. “I would like to get my hands on the person that did it to her, to be honest.”

Police have identified the shooting suspect as 33-year-old Willie Bryant Jr. He was arrested at a Grand Rapids McDonald’s Monday night.

When asked what she would tell Bryant, Houle said, “I would tell him that if I were there, I probably would’ve taken the shot for her.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to support Schoen’s children, the youngest of whom is 11.

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