The initial shock of hearing her youngest son had been shot and killed in his office on the campus of Delta State University in Mississippi has faded to a dull ache for Susie Schmidt and the rest of Ethan’s family as they begin to deal with the hand they have been dealt.
“It has been such a roller coaster of emotion for the past week,” she said Monday. “We have shared a lot of stories and had some laughs and also many tears. Just about the time I think I might have a handle on it though, it all falls apart again.”
She said the family has had no additional information about the shooting from authorities in Cleveland, Mississippi. They promised to contact Ethan’s wife, Liz, if the investigation shed any light on why shooter Shannon Lamb killed him.
She thought they might have heard something by now.
“I guess they are still talking to people, I don’t know. We may never know what happened,” she said. “But that’s what we just keep going back to is ‘why?’
“One of the most difficult things to wrap myself around is that Ethan did not have to be there at all that day,” she said. “He had no classes. But he had dropped the children off at school and, as usual, went on to the office to work, meet with students, whatever. It was quiet there and he could write, do research, and such.”
“He had started a first year seminar program for beginning college students to help them get acclimated to college life. He was enthusiastic about it and gave it extra time. He might have been working on that,” she added.
Ethan’s father, Tom, will go back to Mississippi with Liz and his three grandchildren. They plan to leave later this week.
“Tom wants to help her handle any legal issues, filing any claims, dealing with the business end of all of this,” she said. “And the kids will go back to school next Monday. That will be a big step for them and he wants to be there when they get home.”
She said their son, Brett, and his wife will stay with her in Peabody. She said she chose to stay home instead of make the trip back to Mississippi.
“Honestly, going down there after we got the news was awful,” she said. “That was the longest, hardest trip I ever made in my life. I am not sure I ever want to do it again.”
However, Susie said also that people in Mississippi could not have been more kind to them.
“Really, they were wonderful. They were very good to us,” she said. “And it has been the same since we got back here. We have had phone calls, messages, and cards from Ethan’s friends and colleagues all over the country. There were more than 30 cards in the mail today. He lived long enough to make an impression on many.”