Matthew Mitchell jumped in the car at Fort Hood, Texas, and aimed toward Jackson, Miss., as soon as he learned his mom had been shot.
“As soon as I got the call, I left,” the serviceman said Sunday about the events of last Thursday evening. “But I got another call about two hours into the drive that she had passed.”
Kristy Lynn Mitchell, 49 of Excelsior Springs, was shot in the abdomen apparently at random by a man who pulled up to her in a Ridgeland, Miss., parking lot. She died at a hospital after undergoing surgery.
Mitchell was the second person senselessly shot to death that night. Minutes earlier, in Jackson, 58-year-old Suzanne Hogan was shot in the head at a gas station, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson.
A 22-year-old Jackson, Miss., man was in jail in Hinds County, Miss., on a charge of murder for Hogan’s death. Online jail records Sunday indicated Zehulum Lael James had not been charged with Mitchell’s death.
Mitchell worked at the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center and was in Mississippi attending a conference. She was walking with colleagues from their hotel to a steakhouse when she was shot. She was able to describe her attacker to police.
“She was a mom and a grandma,” Matthew Mitchell said outside the family home. “Two kids and four grandkids.”
Mitchell said his mother’s smile and laugh were unmistakable and hers alone.
“She would command a room,” he said. “She was always smiling and laughing and making people feel like they were the center of the universe. She did that my whole life, and I’m still having delusions of grandeur.”
Mitchell said he doesn’t know why someone would decide to shoot his mother.
“I don’t know all the details at this point, but I’m not going to give him my time. I’m going to let the Mississippi legal system take care of that for us, because he’s not worth our time. My mom is. And that’s how we’re going to approach this. That’s the mindset I want my family to have going forward.
“Instead of filling our heart with hate for what was done, we’ll fill our heart with what she gave us, and that was love and joy.”
Kristy Mitchell also leaves her husband, Douglas, and a daughter, Mellissa. Kristy Mitchell’s remains were expected to arrive in Kansas City on Sunday.
A GoFundMe page had raised $3,300 from 42 people as of Sunday afternoon to help the family with expenses. A family friend, Nicole Anderson Bailey, created the page and posted that Mitchell “was always such a cheerful person and loved her family very much.”
A co-worker of Mitchell’s also posted a comment.
“She was so fun and vibrant,” said Vanessa Flint. “Her smile lit up the room and was so electric.”
Some students at the Job Corps knew Mitchell as “Momma Kristy.”
Matthew Mitchell’s cousin, Shelly Berry, is a registered nurse who lives in Little Rock. Being the closest family member to Jackson, she drove to the hospital.
“She talked to the surgeons and the people on staff there and gave me a very good warm and fuzzy about how things were done and handled for her,” Matthew Mitchell said.
“These kind of things happen and you want to blame somebody or something. God called her up, and I’m not going to try to find blame...”