SPARKMAN, Ark. – The first day of classes for students at Southern Arkansas University beginning on a somber note.
The campus was alerted that a senior student had been shot and killed. According to University police, it happened in a parking lot on campus.
They say a group of students who lived off-campus went to the Donald Reynolds Campus Community Center to meet up with another group of people. One student was injured and taken to the hospital but engineering student Joshua Smith was killed.
Smith’s family and friends in his hometown of Sparkman are now dealing with this news and mourning the loss. We reached out to the family of Joshua Smith but they did not want to go on camera, but his youth pastor remembers a young man that was full of life and should have had plenty more to live.
“He was one of those kids. I just I mean it’s cliché but he did always have a smile on his face like he truly seemed to be friends with everybody always joked. Charming personality, you know he was… he was always cracking jokes, always talking,” said Michael Thomason, First Baptist Church Youth Pastor.
Smith was from the small town of Sparkman. Thomason has known him since he was in high school. He said the one thing he appreciated the most about Smith was he would have conversations.
“A lot of kids won’t get off their phone to have a conversation with you. I never had that with Joshua,” said Thomason.
Thomason said he thought Smith was too big for a town like Sparkman.
“A lot of times in small towns you run into those kids that parents would stay there or their grandparents would stay there and that’s really their only goal is to go back and work at the local mill or whatnot and Josh always seemed to have bigger plans than that,” said Thomason.
Which is why he doesn’t understand why this happened to Smith.
When word finally got to him that Smith had been shot and killed on Tuesday morning he said it was a jarring moment for him.
“That’s when it hit me and I realized what happened and then obviously a sad day in my household,” said Thomason.
Thomason says not just in his household but in the Sparkman community as a whole will mourn the loss of one of its own.
“That’s a close-knit community and everybody cares so it’s going to be tough around the community to you know to put your arm around somebody and tell them it’s going to be okay because everybody is going to feel that loss,” said Thomason.
This was going to be the final semester for Smith at Southern Arkansas. He was on track to receive his degree in engineering.