A former Hillsdale College student was among the six victims murdered in a shooting spree in Kalamazoo on Saturday night.
Dorothy “Judy” Brown, 74, of Battle Creek attended the college from the fall of 1959 to the winter of 1962.
Jason Dalton, 45, allegedly shot and killed Brown, 74, of Battle Creek, along with five other people in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
He has been charged with six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight counts of felony firearm use. He was arraigned on Monday morning, without the possibility of bail.
“When you were in a room, you knew that she noticed you,” Rev. Jim Ashby said of Brown. Ashby, a retired minister, attended Unity Christian Church in Battle Creek with Brown. “If you were a stranger to her, she wanted to get to know you. She wasn’t very interested in talking about herself — she was much more interested in who you were.”
As a freshman at Hillsdale in October 1959, Brown — then Dorothy Jean Knight — became a pledge of the Pi Beta Phi women’s fraternity. She was initiated the next spring.
“In high school, you have a little homework and you do it, but in college you have a lot and you do enough to get by,” Brown commented to the Collegian during her first semester at Hillsdale.
In April 1961, Brown travelled with four of her Pi Phi sisters to a small school for local children in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, which the national fraternity helped establish in the 1910s. She also visited Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a vacation.
Brown transferred to Western Michigan University after completing her fall 1962 semester at Hillsdale.
According to Hillsdale’s alumni magazines, she married Edwin Reynolds, and the pair had two sons, Jeffrey and Robert.
Rev. Ann Ashby, Ashby’s wife and pastor of Unity Church is meeting with Brown’s family to prepare for her memorial service later this week.
A long-time member of Unity Christian Church of Battle Creek, Brown served as treasurer on the board of trustees until her death.
“Whatever needed to be done, she would ask how she could help,” Jim Ashby said. “She was a minister’s dream congregant. She was always willing to roll up her sleeves and get to work. There was a great willingness in that woman.”
Brown went to dinner with three friends at Cracker Barrell in Kalamazoo on Saturday night, Feb. 20. Brown and her companions, Mary Jo Nye, 60, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, both of Battle Creek, and 14-year-old Abigail Kopf were shot while sitting in Nye’s Chevrolet Cruze in the parking lot of the restaurant.
Brown, Nye, and Hawthorne died on the scene. Kopf is still “fighting for her life” at Bronson Children’s Hospital, according to a statement from her parents released to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
“We are currently reeling in the aftermath of the tragic loss of life for six of the residents of our Battle Creek/Kalamazoo communities; two of them were beloved friends and active members of our Unity family,” the Unity church posted on its Facebook wall.
Detectives say Dalton has confessed he “took people’s lives,” according to national media sources.
According to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Dalton “was cooperative,” and his demeanor was “even-tempered upon arrest.”
Dalton will appear in court again on March 10 for a preliminary examination hearing.
Meanwhile, the victims’ families mourn their loss.
“She always gave a sense of high positive regard — you felt like you mattered when you were with Judy,” Ashby said. “You felt acknowledged, you felt embraced, you felt special.”
Brown’s memorial service will be held this Friday in Battle Creek.