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Rural King victim remembered as 'larger than life' by his mother

"Our kids are not supposed to go before we do. That's not the way the world is supposed to work. But we live in a broken world," said mother of Tristan M. Smith.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County Sheriff's Office identified 23-year-old Tristan M. Smith of Powell as the victim of a shooting at a Rural King store on Dec. 22.

His mother, Sandy Remington, described her son as the "glue of the family" and her "right hand." When Remington lost two of her other sons a few years ago, she said Smith was her shoulder to lean on. 

She said he was someone who would always step up to the plate when there was a need. 

"My son has an extremely big heart and impacted a lot of people's lives in a positive way. He was there for people when they needed him to be a friend to listen, to give advice, or a hug, whatever. Whatever somebody needed, he was there to provide," Remington said.

For his family, Smith was a son, best friend and brother all in one. Those who knew him said they remember him as someone with a bright sense of humor who never failed to make a person laugh. 

"He was loud and he was larger than life," she said. "The world was definitely brighter with him in." 

For his mother and siblings, Smith was a fighter and someone who "beat the odds" in his journey with autism. 

"He had a very big heart very, very generous, very giving," she said. "Without hesitation, very selfless."

Smith had worked at Rural King for around three years. He first started as a cashier before working in the hardware and gun section.

"He kind of did everything in the store. He was the go-to for whatever they needed," she said. 

For Remington, the last few years have been filled with trials and tribulations. Smith was her second oldest and the third that she's lost in four years.

She says it's her faith and her confidence in God that keeps her alive -- second by second. 

"Because this amount of pain is indescribable. I don't have words for it. As a mom who has gone through these losses," she said. "There's no way to put words behind the step that pain. And I know without a doubt without God, I wouldn't be here I wouldn't be able to go through day after day. And sometimes it's moment by moment."

Christmas was one of Smith's favorite holidays. The night before he was killed, they watched Christmas movies together. That was one of their favorite ways to spend time together. 

Now she holds on tight to a yellow blanket he planned to gift her on Christmas Eve.

"It wasn't wrapped up, it was in his closet ... He hadn't gotten to it yet. But it was in a plastic bag and I knew he had something for my husband and my younger son and this was right there with it...so this is mine," she said. 

Friends of the family organized a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses. If you are interested in donating you can visit 'Help support the victim's family from Halls TN.'

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