ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - A northern Indiana man is encouraging people to commit two random acts of kindness in honor of the two women who were slain last week at a grocery store near his home.
Mike Bailey lives just behind the Martin's Super Market in Elkhart where the shooting happened Jan. 15 and said he shops there nearly every day.
Even though he didn't know 20-year-old store worker Krystle Dikes and 44-year-old shopper Rachelle Godfread, Bailey said he still felt a personal loss from the shootings.
"We were just heartbroken that such a thing happened. I was really bothered by it," he told The Elkhart Truth (http://bit.ly/1bgTvfc ).
Police say Dikes and Godfread were killed by 22-year-old gunman Shawn Walter Bair, who was fatally shot by police officers after they found him pointing a gun at the store's manager. Police have said investigators don't know a motive for the shootings.
Bailey started an "Elkhart Strong" Facebook page that has generated more than 7,000 likes by Wednesday afternoon. An effort to sell T-shirts to raise money for the victims' families also has been started.
Bailey's girlfriend, Diann Owen, came up with a design, and Elkhart business Skinner the Printer agreed to donate all profits from the $15 sales to the families.
The shirts are black with red printing and read, "Together we are ELKHART STRONG/Pay it forward/Commit to 2 Random Acts of Kindness/In Memory of Krystle Dikes & Rachelle Godfread/1-15-2014."
Miriam Cooper, who owns Skinner the Printer with her husband Michael, said they started taking orders Tuesday, with requests coming in from Elkhart natives who now live in Tennessee, Arizona, Texas and Alaska.
Cooper said she will give the proceeds to Martin's Super Markets, with the understanding that Martin's will divide the money evenly and deposit it in charitable accounts created for each family at Teachers Credit Union.
Rebecca Filley bought one of the first 25 shirts.
"I don't want what happened at Martin's to define this community in any negative way," Filley said. "I think this community is so much more than that kind of negativity. We will get up from this and be stronger and better, I hope."
Bailey said he hopes the shirts and his "pay it forward" message will help, in some small way, counteract the violence from the shootings.
"People don't do anything nice for anyone anymore," he said. "Everyone is so self-absorbed, myself included. I come home from work and spend time with my family and don't always think about doing things for the community."
Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.etruth.com