Vast Memorial Would Honor Those Who Died in Shooting

Feb 21, 2017

The tentative design for the memorial to the victims of the February 20, 2016 shooting.
Credit Courtesy of Forever Strong

A nonprofit group has unveiled plans for an extensive memorial to the victims of last year’s mass shooting in Kalamazoo. Organizers revealed the design at a ceremony Monday that marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting.

The site would cover about 30 acres and would feature a tournament-level soccer complex. Visitors could also walk a path with monuments to each of the victims and markers that symbolize important parts of their lives. Colored lights would recall the role first responders played in the aftermath.

Laurie Smith’s son Tyler died in the shooting; so did her husband. The soccer field would commemorate Tyler’s love of the sport. Smith says she wants to see the site come together even if it takes years.

“I believe that the memorial that we’ve come up with will impact a lot more lives and will touch a lot more people than if we put up a smaller one,” she says.

Architect David VanderKlok worked with victims’ families to create the plan. He acknowledges that it’s ambitious, but says the group intends see it through even if it has to build in phases.

“When we worked with the families, and they talked about what they wanted to do, and when we really went through and I started seeing the excitement come into their eyes, I know this is where they want to take it,” he says.

The group says it has a tentative location but isn’t ready to reveal it.