Family mourns sisters-in-law gunned down in Kalamazoo

Both were shot, killed in parking lot of Cracker Barrel

By Lauren Podell - Reporter, John Steckroth - Editor

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Families in southwest Michigan are mourning loved ones who were killed Saturday in a shooting rampage that took the lives of six people.

Mary Lou Nye, 62 and Mary Jo Nye, 60, were two of those people. The women were sisters-in-law.

“The hardest part about this whole thing, is that the perfect person to help my father through this, died next to my mom,” Bart Nye, son of Mary Lou Nye and nephew of Mary Jo Nye, said.

The women were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant along with three other women. Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek, and Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek, were killed. Abigail Kopf, 18, remains in critical condition.

“Mary was supposed to call me when she left Kalamazoo,” said Chris Nye, Mary Lou’s husband.  That was our thing, she always called when she was en route. Well, I never got that call.”

Mary Lou Nye had been a master sergeant in the Air Force and served for 10 years. She was a retired Secretary of State worker and was currently working at a local day care.

Her husband Chris Nye is a 20-year veteran of the Air Force.

“I called her, it went to voicemail, I called my sister, I got voicemail,” Chris said. “After an hour I started seeing stories online about the shootings and I just sat and said I better wait for someone to officially tell me.”

Mary Jo Nye was a teacher at Battle Creek Schools.

“If I got my creativity from my mom, then I got my personality from my Aunt Jo because when my parents were in the Air Force Reserve she always watched me,” Bart said. “She was my favorite aunt.

A GoFundMe was created to help with funeral costs.

Before the shooting at the Cracker Barrel occurred, a father and son were shot and killed while shopping for cars at the Seelye Ford KIA. They were identified as Richard Smith, 53, and Tyler Smith, 18.

Hours prior to the incident, a woman was shot multiple times at the Meadows apartment complex. She is expected to survive.

Jason Brian Dalton, 45, was arraigned on murder charges Monday afternoon and was denied bail. He faces six counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felony firearm.

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