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Tyree Smith’s teacher says ‘overwhelming sadness’ has fallen over Eastern HS after his death

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Those who knew him say Tyree Smith was kind, energetic, and always smiling. One of his Eastern High School teachers said his smile and positive energy are irreplaceable.

Smith was only 16 when was shot and killed while waiting for his school bus on the morning of Sept. 22.

The teen didn’t have much time at Eastern High School; COVID hit several months into his freshman year, and he spent his sophomore year learning virtually from home. When he returned to school his junior year, Emily Kolb, one of his teachers, said everyone enjoyed seeing him again.

“He was literally always smiling,” Kolb, Smith’s freshman English teacher, said.

She said Smith used to sit in the front row and that he was a leader.

“He could sit and talk to anybody,” Kolb said. “Talking to a gamer, talking to a cheerleader, football player — he had the opportunity to make a difference on a lot of people’s lives.”

She said Eastern High School already feels different without Smith.

“You almost want to feel his energy in the places he was,” Kolb said.

The morning he was shot, Smith was waiting on his school bus in the Russell neighborhood along with other kids early in the morning when someone in a grey Jeep drove by and opened fire. Smith died at the hospital; two other kids were also shot but survived.

Kolb said the news was devastating.

“Just overwhelming sadness, and it’s kind of transitioned into anger for myself and other teachers at school,” Kolb said. “We’ve got a student who is doing all the right things. It was 6:15 in the morning. He was trying to come to school. It’s unbearable to think about and I’m still processing that now.”

Kolb said she is trying to help her students by encouraging them to talk, journal, and share their feelings, adding that a few students who were at the bus stop during the shooting last week have not yet returned to school.

The teacher said she wants everyone to know Smith had an energy that he shared with the world for 16 years, but it wasn’t long enough.

“He was an amazing student,” Kolb said. “He will definitely be missed.”

Smith’s funeral will be held at King Solomon Baptist Church off Anderson Street on Oct. 2.

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