On November 20th, 2011 around 10:00 am our life changed forever. My phone rang and it was my daughter, Christina. "Dad, have you heard from Mom or anyone at the house" Christina asked? "No! Why!!" I replied. Christina continued," We got a call from the neighbors. There are ambulances, firetrucks and Sheriff cars there."
Because it was my birthday weekend I immediately thought, oh well there goes my party. I figured someone had broken a leg or something. She said she was going to go down to the house. So I told her to call me and let me know what was happening. Within a minute she had called back and said "DADDY SOMEONE HAS BEEN SHOT!!!!!"
Gail and I jumped in the car and headed to Pleasant Garden, NC. When we got there we were told by the Sheriff's department that we would find the children at the hospital. We were told that there was one teenage male dead inside the house. We rushed to the hospital only to be told to wait. When the officials finally came and told us that we could come back and see the kids we thought we were just going to a waiting room to let the kids know that everything was going to be OK. The hospital in Greensboro is the hospital that I had been working at for the past few years. So as they lead us down the hall I realized we were headed to the trauma side of the Emergency Room. I got a sick feeling in my stomach. As we entered the trauma unit I pushed them back a bit to look in. As I looked to my right I saw my youngest son Zack laying lifeless on a gurney with a ventilator tube in. I could tell he had been shot in the head. I looked to my right and saw my nephew Ricky laying in the same manner. I realized then that my son Dylan was the teenage male that was already dead. My knees buckled and I begin to go down. When I felt the arms off God come in under my arms and hold me up. I heard this voice speak to me and say, "You can't go down now boy you have job to do!"
On this, day due to a murder/suicide, my sons, Dylan and Zack, my niece and nephew, Ricky and Hana and Dylan's girlfriend, Makayla Woods were all shot by my ex-wife Mary Ann Holder who then shot herself. One by one six people in our family passed away. Mary Ann and Dylan never made it to the hospital. As a family we prayed for the others and hoped for some good news. Thousands of people came to the hospital that first day and hundreds stayed with us all week. Zack was pronounced brain dead that evening and taken into surgery for organ donation on November 21st. (My 38th birthday) Hana was pronounced brain dead on November 22nd, Makayla on November 23rd and Ricky on November 24th. The community of Pleasant Garden, NC, where I grew up and the children lived, held prayer vigils and a candle light vigil. People all over the country were reading the news and praying for us.
The following week was spent scheduling the funeral services for all of the children. The funeral was held at the Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. Pastor Mike Barrett and the congregation there opened their doors and their hearts to us. On Thursday December 1st, 2011 we had a visitation in the Gym at the church and the services were in the sanctuary on December 2nd. Over 3000 people attended one or both of the services. Pastor Mike Barrett led the services, with Eulogy’s by Rev. Carl Pulliam, Rev. Donnie Pickerel and Rev. Daryl Lewis. Music was provided by The Easter Brothers, Billy Creason and the DFN Band and myself (Rocky Smith) and a special Happy Birthday was led by Rev. Lewis, December 2nd would have been Makayla's 16th birthday. A poem and reflections was read by my daughter Christina Nichole Smith. Through all of this Christina has been so strong and has proven to be wise beyond her years. I am so proud of her. I sang two songs at the services one entitled "Brotherly Love" and the other "I want us to be together in Heaven", I changed the words to include the names of my sons and the other children. The burial was at the Lakeview Cemetery in Greensboro, NC on December 4th. A private funeral for Mary Ann Holder was held separately.
During and after the services people began to ask how I could stand, sing and speak to others in comfort while dealing with this tragic loss. I kept telling them it was my faith in Jesus Christ and the strength that God was giving me. Then people began asking me would we come and speak, sing and minister at their event or service. Gail and I prayed and talked and prayed and talked. We came to the conclusion that Rocky Smith Ministries is what we should do. We feel that we need to tell everyone we can our story and how God is helping us through this tragedy. We know that we have a long way to go. We have no idea what really happened to cause Mary Ann to kill the children and herself. Her actions are not reflective of the woman, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend that we knew and loved. The medical examiners report showed no drugs in neither Mary Ann nor any of the kids systems.There are still allot of unanswered questions and always will be.
What we do know, is that we can share God's love, the dangers of domestic violence, mental illness and the gift of organ donations to people everywhere. At this time 23 lives around the country have be touched by the organ donations of Zack, Ricky and Hana.
Moving forward we ask that you pray for our ministry, pray that doors will open for us to get our story out. That God will continue to strengthen us. Lead and guide us to do whatever he would have us to do. I don't claim to be perfect, but I will strive to be a living testimony of Triumph through Tragedy.
Written by Rocky Smith
CONTACT US @ 336-790-6257