Fort Worth

TCU to honor student killed in random act of violence

Vigil to be held privately for TCU community and family of Wes Smith on Wednesday night

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On Wednesday night, students and faculty at TCU will join the parents of Wes Smith for a candlelight vigil at the Frog Fountain. The 21-year-old student was shot and killed early Friday morning near the West 7th entertainment district.

Philip Smith, Wes’ father, said his son was loved by many in his hometown of Germantown, Tennessee, and Fort Worth.

“The ability to be in his presence was special,” Philip said. “I think that’s why people gravitated towards him.”

Philip and his wife Dorree Jane said they are heartbroken over the loss of their youngest son.

“It is unbelievable in every sense of the word when you get that kind of news,” Philip said. “It's hard to get your heart and head around it. It’s been shocking.”

His father said Wes was active on and off campus, volunteering as a football coach for a middle school and sharing his Christian faith with others.

“The more important thing is not necessarily what he did, although he had countless accomplishments,” Philip said. “It was the kind of person that he was and what he did in between those times… It was his faith that made him a friend to other people.”

Philip and his wife had traveled to TCU in August to celebrate his birthday and the start of his junior year.

“We would sit and marvel at what a great guy he was. In fact, we had just celebrated his 21st birthday. His mother and I went down there. We took him and a group of his friends out to dinner,” Philip said. “And at the end of that, as we are departing to leave our child in college, my wife said, 'Boy, my heart is just so full. He is so happy,’.”

Philip said he and his wife were present during Saturday’s TCU football game where a moment of silence was held in honor of their son.

“We were there for that game, at the very beginning for the moment of silence. And to have them put his face on the screen... for us to look across the field and see the student section with a large banner saying 'Win for Wes', and the students chanting that, was just unbelievable,” Philip said.

It is that same community and outpouring of support, the Smiths said, that is helping them stay strong. On Wednesday night they will return to Fort Worth for a solemn TCU tradition at the Frog Fountain. TCU honors the death of a student through an evening vigil where the university community can pray, reflect, and light a candle in honor of the life lost.

Philip said it is about celebrating the life they had for 21 years and not his death.

“His heart was big, and his heart was big for other people,” Philip said. “We have had people in and out of our house daily since this has happened, supporting us. The good news is that it is not just sitting and crying with us, but sharing stories, sharing the funny things, and embracing the life that he had.”

No cameras will be allowed at Wednesday’s candlelight vigil to give family and friends of Wes a private moment to grieve in the community. The vigil is set to start at 8 p.m.

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