BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – One year ago today, the life of a Tri-Cities family forever changed when a gunman opened fire along a local roadway killing one person and injuring several others.
Her family and loved ones called 44-year-old Jennifer Rooney the heart of the family. One year after her death in a mass shooting along Volunteer Parkway in Bristol, her husband and young daughter opened up about how they’re coping without the person who provided so much love and light to all she knew.
But that light was tragically taken when investigators said Lakeem Scott opened fire shortly after 2 a.m. along Volunteer Parkway on July 7th of last year.
Jennifer Rooney was traveling on her morning newspaper route when she was killed.
Elizabeth Kuebel learned Jennifer’s family is keeping her memory alive by showcasing her strength and positive outlook in everything they do.
July 7, 2016, David Rooney said was the worst day of his life. It’s the day an act of random violence took the love of his life, Jennifer, away from him forever.
Now, David says he’s keeping the happy memories of her close to his heart, acting as a source of strength for their two children and trying to get through day by day without Jennifer.
“It replays many times, over and over again,” David said. “We were together for 25 years, and now with her not being here, it’s just a big hole.”
Investigators say early Thursday morning on July 7th last year, Lakeem Scott fired shots at drivers on the parkway, injuring several and killing Jennifer.
“One, finding out what had happened, and two coming home and telling them that their mother wasn’t coming home, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and probably will have to do,” David said.
In December, Scott pleaded guilty to first degree murder and seven counts of attempted first degree murder.
David says the plea brought closure but not forgiveness.
“It’s just too much to take away from somebody just to forgive it,” David said.
As David reflects on the day his life changed forever one year ago, he said so many emotions continue to run through his head.
“Sadness, anger, loneliness.”
Telling us a day doesn’t go by where he and his children don’t miss Jennifer’s upbeat personality.
“Almost any situation she would find the positive or the upside to it. It was hard to keep her down,” he said.
Rooney’s 11-year-old daughter, Grace, said she’d give anything for her mom’s laughter and hugs.
The tight knit family is now taking each day one at a time, sometimes David says even hour by hour, and staying positive for the future.
“It will get a little easier as time goes on, it will never be completely easy, but it will get easier,” David said. “I love her, that’s the main thing, I love her now and I always will.”
In December, a judge sentenced Lakeem Scott to life in prison. He must serve 52 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
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