KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WJBK) - Out of respect to the victims and the families, this story does not name the man accused of committing the murders.
Police in Kalamazoo have confirmed the identities of all people killed in the random shootings Saturday night.
Police say the victims are Mary Lou Nye, 62, Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68. A father and son were also killed. They were identified as Rich and Tyler Smith by Dr. Robin Buchler, the Superintendent of Mattawan Consolidated Schools.
The terrifying rampage started around 6 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Richland Township where one woman was shot and seriously wounded.
Around 10 p.m., Rich and Tyler Smith were the first two fatalities. They were looking at cars when they were shot and killed.
About 15 minutes later, five people were in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel along I-94. The two Nyes, Brown, Hawthorne and a 14-year-old were sitting in their cars when they were approached by the shooter. All were killed except for the teenager who was critically injured and is being treated at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.
Friends and relatives of six victims slain in a shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, are offering remembrances of them.
Below are some of their stories gathered by the Associated Press:
MARY JO NYE
The 60-year-old retired English teacher served as "a motherly figure" to students at an alternative high school for at-risk teens, coaching even the most reluctant ones to become better writers.
The Battle Creek, Michigan, resident would work one-on-one with students to get them to open up verbally, then put their thoughts on paper and structure them into written compositions, said Tara Egnatuk, assistant director of the Calhoun Community High School where Nye worked.
"She got even the most reluctant writers in our school to express themselves on paper. She would do baby steps with them where they might come in and not even be able to read. She would have them leaving with skills that were amazing compared to where they started," said Egnatuk, who was mentored by Nye during their six years of working together.
While Nye didn't have children of her own, she played an important role in the lives of students.
"She was an English teacher, but she was a lot more than that to the students who don't come from great home lives," Egnatuk said. "She really had a position of mentorship, kind of a motherly figure for a lot of these kids."
Egnatuk said that Nye retired four years ago from the school for which she helped launch by working on writing its charter. The school's website lists its mission as helping "students who have not found success in traditional high schools."
Since retiring, Nye enjoyed quilting, playing Scrabble and volunteering at her church while continuing to tutor students, Egnatuk said. Nye had also worked previously as a literacy specialist for the state of Michigan.
A Michigan State Police news release said that Nye was shot in the driver's seat of a Chevrolet Cruze, while two of her passengers were killed and another was wounded. The driver of a nearby minivan, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, whom Egnatuk believes was Nye's sister-in-law, was also killed.
"I'm getting calls and emails and messages from former students who are just devastated," Egnatuk said.
Cheryl Chubinski, a school secretary who knew Nye for 20 years, said Nye would bring in a sewing machine, do cooking demonstrations and show students how to make homemade gifts at Christmas.
"It's not like we had tons of resources, but she certainly brought in those things any way she could," she said.
Chubinski said that helping students believe in themselves was a greater reward than monetary compensation for her friend.
"You didn't need a raise. You needed the kids to say 'Thank you Ms. Nye, you helped me make it,'" she said.
Patrick Mallon Jr. didn't know Dorothy Brown all that well but what he did know he liked.
After she moved in two doors down in Battle Creek about 10 years ago, the 74-year-old woman everyone knew as Judy would come over with herbs she had grown in her garden and was thrilled when Mallon's granddaughters came over to her home to give her tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that they'd grown.
Mallon said she would always wave and say hello when she drove off to the mall, where she walked for exercise. Mallon said whenever he and his wife went on vacation, it was Brown they'd ask to keep an eye on the house and feed their cat.
And, he said, after it snowed he would make sure to shovel in front of her home — something she'd always appreciate.
"She would give us a gift card to a nice restaurant, something like that," he said.
Mallon said Brown had two grown sons, with one living in California and the other in Florida.