Members of the Kalamazoo community gathered at sunset Sunday to dedicate a memorial to the victims of the mass shooting on Saturday night. The monument was erected on a tree near a park on the corner of where the shooting took place.
Some of the names on the monument are not yet known.
But the weather was just right for a festival featuring free food and music. “Today is about celebrating our community,” said resident Demetrius Henderson, 32. “I think we have a way to stand together.”
According to a statement issued by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the festival was organized by the Henry Township Community Development Commission and Kalamazoo District Library Foundation. It is located between Hopeville Park and the rooftop at Kalamazoo College.
The crowd was a mix of local young families and area residents.
Emma Elliott, 26, attended the festival with her friends, who had organized it. On Saturday evening, they had gone to a wedding reception, but Elliott said it was the shooting that made them want to attend the ceremony to honor the victims.
“We looked at each other and said: ‘We better do something,’” she said. They got a lot of messages from people telling them that they were strong, so they decided to step up and create a memorial to the victims.
At the dedication, Mayor Bobby Hopewell told the crowd, “Tonight, tonight, our community is grieving, but no matter the time of the day, our community has never missed a trick.”
As the crowd watched, a bronze sculpture was unveiled to the community. It was sculpted by Catherine Mathews from the large relief sculpture of the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
The sculpture has three faces, one of which shows a woman in a red dress. Ms. Mathews said her inspiration for the sculpture came from looking at the two victims of the Paris attacks wearing red dresses. It also shows the victims’ hands and feet, which showed the weapon used to kill them. A woman’s voice is intoned.
“We are going to be stronger,” Mayor Hopewell said. “That is the mentality I think we are going to adopt.”
The other faces include Mary Lou Nye, Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy Brown, Dorothy Avery, Mary Jo Nye, Tiana Carruthers, Mary Lou Nye, Suzanne Sipprelle, and Collin Weston.
The sculpture will be on display indefinitely until the funds for maintenance can be raised.
The tribute is now located in front of a sign indicating the Department of Public Safety headquarters.
Visitors will be able to walk under the sculpture’s grand white structure. A greeting note carved in the concrete states: “Our officers will not leave until the suspect has been captured.”
The department is staffed with some of the same people who responded on Saturday night. On Sunday, they were told the names of the victims in a brief moment of silence.
“I feel like we’re up to the job,” said Officer Jeff Lee, who was one of the officers who arrived at the scene Saturday.
He said he was grateful for the messages of support that he had received. Some people have told him they are feeling the same emotions he felt when he was on the scene.
“It’s real terror,” said Officer Lee. “This isn’t how things are supposed to be. This isn’t the way things are supposed to be.”
Read the full story at Today Kalamazoo
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