PORTAGE, Mich.--A mother, a sister, and a girlfriend all sharing grief as they cope with an unspeakable loss.
Feb. 20th, hearts around the world broke for the victims and families involved in the Kalamazoo shooting spree that left six dead and two critically injured. Included in the death toll: 17-year-old Tyler Smith, and his father, Richard Smith.
Those shootings lost Laurie Smith her husband and son; Emily Smith lost her dad and brother; and Alexis Cornish, Tyler's girlfriend, witnessed their shootings as she hid in the backseat of a car mere feet from the gunman. Afterward, she called 911, which officials later credited with helping in their capture of the shooter.
The family sat down with FOX 17 at their lawyer's office in Portage to talk about dealing with the loss, how they're coping, and remembering the things they loved about Tyler and Richard.
"I was a daddy's girl--I've always been a daddy's girl. Me and my mom, we're more like best friends," said Emily Smith, "It's going to be a totally different normal."
Laurie said Tyler was taking an entrepreneurial class, hoping to open a business with his father.
"I feel empty and and lost, but even more so a sense of responsibility...because God has blessed me to be here with my daughter. And I'm grateful for that, because Rich and I would oftentimes split when they were younger...and now it's like he's with Tyler, and I'm with Emily," she said.
Alexis remembered all the fun she and Tyler would have, recalling that he loved spending time with his father.
"They just had strong personalities, and they'd have a goofy comment towards what people did or said," she said, "They'd mimic you and say the exact same thing...and if you were whining, they'd say, 'Oh, go cry about it'."
Emily agreed: "They always said it would buff out, um, to everything. If you got a cut or hurt or something happened in the family, it was always, 'It'll buff out.' That was just, like, the whole motto. They were very charismatic people."
Since losing Tyler and Richard, Alexis said everyone at school has come together to support each other. Laurie also said their family has found unbelievable financial and emotional support in light of that night, asking that everyone keep them in your prayers.
But one thing all three women agree on is that they want the two men to be remembered not for how they left the world, but how they lived in it.
"They would want to be remembered...just for the people they were and not by everything that happened," said Emily. Her mom agreed: "They would want everyone to be positive, and they would be so pleased with the outpouring with support and love for us ... They would just be very proud of the community and nation. They want us to go forward."
"Think how good they want you to be now...and that would be strong," said Alexis, "They wanted everyone to be strong."