Shooting victim had family in Thomasville -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Shooting victim had family in Thomasville

April 18, 2007

Thomasville-- Virginia Tech is nearly 500 miles from Thomasville, but a family in the South Georgia town is experiencing the grief of the massacre firsthand.

Twenty-two-year-old Ryan Clark, one of the first people shot and killed has relatives in Thomasville.  His father, grandmother, aunts, and cousins all live there. 

Every year growing up, along with his older sister and twin brother, Clark spent time in his aunt Jeanne Mitchell's Thomasville home.  "During the summertime I would have all of them, my nieces and nephews, they would all be with me, and we would just have a joyful time," Mitchell remembers.

Clarke's last visit to Thomasville was just two months ago.  His cousin, Nicara Mitchell says he was excited about his upcoming graduation in May.   "He was just. . . Ready to get everything started in his life and do something with himself," she said.

His family never dreamed it would be the last time they would see him.  It was mid-morning on Monday when Clark's aunt Odessa Williams saw another family member on the phone and in tears.  

"I said, what's wrong what's wrong, what's going on? And the tv was on, I looked at the tv and they said there's shootings at virginia tech.. . And I said no!" said Williams.  Shortly after though, the horrible news was confirmed.  Ryan was dead.

Killed at Ambler Johnson Hall, where he worked as a resident assistant, he was one of the first victims in the tragic shooting rampage.  "I couldn't believe it, it was like a dream. . Something you want to wake up out of. . . Like, this can't be true," said Nicara Mitchell.

While the details are not yet clear, his aunts say they've heard Clark was trying to help another victim.   "That's how he got to be the first one to get shot, he went to try to help," said Williams.

Though angry and confused at why his life was cut tragically short, Clark's family is determined to move on, and keep his memory alive.  "We're just going to pull it together, as family, love one another, just be there for them," said Jeanne Mitchell.

Williams added, "I'm just gonna try to press forward. That's what he would want me to do."   The family is planning a funeral for Ryan in Augusta on Saturday.




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