While the media, military and law enforcement were sorting out details from the Thursday morning shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn., family members of one of the victims, who has ties to Kansas, were praying and rushing to be at his side.
Paula Proxmire, who lives in Ottawa County, received word Thursday morning that her son, Randall Smith, 26, a logistics specialist in the U.S. Navy, suffered three gunshot wounds during the incident in Chattanooga. He underwent surgery Thursday afternoon, said Tania Daugherty, of Minneapolis, Proxmire’s cousin.
Daugherty was informed by her aunt, Linda Wallace, who lives in Texas.
“When my aunt called me, she said, ‘Pray,' because they called Randall’s wife and said, ‘Bring your pastor,' “Daugherty said.
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She was given permission by the family to talk to the Journal.
“It happened about 10:30 (Thursday) morning. Two different facilities were hit,” she said.
Proxmire, her father, Jack Merrill, who lives near Minneapolis, and her sister, Roxana Blair, of Kansas City, were on their way to Chattanooga.
At midafternoon, Daugherty said Randall Smith was “still in the operating room and in critical condition.”
‘He’s still fighting hard'
At 5 p.m., she was updated by Smith’s mom, who was called by the hospital. At that time, Randall Smith was out of surgery and being taken to the trauma intensive care unit, Daugherty wrote in a text message.
“They said his wounds are very extensive, more surgeries to come,” she wrote. “They said they hit his liver and colon.”
Daugherty wrote that her cousin was on a ventilator and had been given 150 units of blood.
“They were not sure he will make it through the night,” Daugherty said. “He’s still fighting hard.”
Smith and his wife, Angie Smith, have three daughters age 6 and younger, Daugherty said. She hasn’t seen Randall Smith since he was approximately 10. Randall Smith lived in Ohio until he entered the service.
“He had just re-enlisted and got transferred (to Chattanooga),” Daugherty said. “I don’t see him often. It’s been a while since he was back in Kansas.”
She has remained close with Randall’s mom and is praying for his recovery.
“I found out he was shot once under the right arm, once in the stomach and once in the back,” Daugherty said. “I was shocked.”
Early reports from Chatannooga were troubling, because they read only that four Marines were killed.
“It doesn’t say there is anyone still alive. People are calling me, asking me if my cousin’s dead,” Daugherty said. “At this point, he’s still alive.”