Businesses where deadly shootings happened reopen

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
Seelye Kia dealership and Cracker Barrel flowers 022216_192838

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The two Kalamazoo-area businesses that were the sites of shootings Saturday night that left six people dead made different decisions on whether to open Monday morning.

Mickey Seelye is the part-owner of the Ford and Kia auto dealership in Kalamazoo where a father and son were shot down in cold blood. He said he felt it was important to not give in to fear and open as usual, though he said he and his employees are stunned by the seemingly random actions of the shooter captured on video.

The Cracker Barrel in Texas Township where police say shooting suspect Jason Dalton killed four women less than half an hour later was closed until 4 p.m. Monday.

Both businesses supplied video to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety that helped lead to an arrest within a couple of hours.

“Without their immediate response and assistance to aid the police in this community, we probably would not be here saying that we have a suspect in custody,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said.

Seelye, who declined to speak on camera, said he was happy to provide police with the footage, but watching it was horrible.

Seelye said he saw the gunman approach Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler, as they looked at cars in the lot five hours after the dealership closed at 5 p.m. Seelye said the gunman opened fire on the pair just after they turned to speak to him and then he tried the handles of other cars before fleeing the scene in a Chevy HHR.

Police told 24 Hour News 8 that as the father and son were shot, the teen’s girlfriend was hiding in their car as the shooter walked past.

Some 20 minutes later, police say, Dalton was outside the Cracker Barrel, where he fired at two vehicles. Dorothy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Jo Nye and Mary Lou Nye were killed and a 14-year-old girl was critically injured.

The Cracker Barrel was closed Sunday and until 4 p.m. Monday to provide unfettered access for police and to offer counseling to employees, according to Janella Escobar, head of corporate communications in Tennessee.

“Our priority was taking care of our employees and also cooperating fully with police,” Escobar said.

The restaurant was still open at the time of the shooting.

Throughout the day, dozens of cars drove up to the restaurant to find the parking lot blocked by an employee who refused to speak about the decision other than to say employees were meeting inside.

Seelye said the surveillance video from his car dealership was clear and he believes it showed the suspect who was later arrested by police.

Seelye said it was important to him to show support for the police, who he said did a great job nabbing a suspect so quickly after the crime occurred, and to show Kalamazoo community members that they are safe.

“We refuse to let evil win in this situation,” Seelye said. “We refuse to allow fear to win.”

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