The Trojan family lost one of its own on the morning of Friday, Oct. 14.
Michael Derek Kennedy, a sophomore business major from Niceville, Florida, died off campus in the 300 block of Jane Road, according to an email sent by Herbert Reeves, dean of student services.
According to the Troy Police Department, Kennedy was found lying in a yard with multiple chest wounds.
The shooting was reported to the police on Friday at 3:26 a.m.
“The subsequent investigation revealed that the resident on Jane Road answered an early morning knock on his door to find two subjects outside, one of which was armed with a long gun,” according to the Troy Police Department press release.
“The resident then fired multiple rounds from a handgun toward the armed subject striking him in the chest,” the press release said.
Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson has indicated that Kennedy and a second person were seeking a lost cell phone at the time of the incident, which remains under investigation.
“Derek was extremely hard-working and soft-spoken. He didn’t talk unless it was meaningful,” said Joel Kervin, a junior marketing major from Troy and president of Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Kervin said the support that he and the other fraternity brothers of Sigma Chi have received from the administration, the Greek community and the student body has been “incredible.”
A GoFundMe page raised about $2,000 in three hours to cover travel expenses for the chapter to attend Kennedy’s funeral ceremony in Texas on Thursday, Oct. 20.
“I didn’t really believe in the ‘One Troy, One Family’ until this happened,” Kervin said. “I want to thank everyone in the student population; whether they believe it or not, they have helped in some way.”
Dendy Moseley, associate director of enrollment management and faculty adviser to Sigma Chi, said that they have received “so much support” from the University community.
“The administration (such as Dean Reeves, Mr. Derrick Brewster, Ms. Barbara Patterson and Sadaris Williams) and other student organizations have been tremendously supportive and have embodied the spirit of Troy University which is so frequently referenced,” Moseley said.
Kervin said one of the hardest things he had to do was to convey the news to the chapter members.
“They did not look for revenge,” Kervin said. “It was sadness and celebration of his life. They took it like men, and used this as a motivation to be better themselves.”
“This is a terrible tragedy, but in this time of need, Troy University once again revealed itself as the special place we know it to be,” Moseley said.
Brandon Matthews, a Troy alum, University Admissions counselor and former Sigma Chi president, said that Kennedy’s loss has produced accountability among chapter members.
“Our organization has strengthened from this,” Matthews said. “Difficult conversations were had which produced accountability among brothers.”
Matthews said that the fraternity has now lost two lives within the last 10 months, and he noticed a change in the organization.
“This has to change behavior and world views, because life is important,” Matthews said.
Kervin said he has seen a shift in the focus of the organization members.
“They are being more focused on the things that actually matter and overall coming together over one single person,” Kervin said. “It showed that we truly do care about others.”
“The University is providing counseling and other support to students, as well as to faculty and staff,” Reeves said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all during this time.”
Matthews said he also encourages everyone to keep Kennedy’s family in prayers.
“I didn’t have a personal relationship with Derek, but it affected me a lot, more than I thought it would,” Matthews said.
Kervin described Kennedy as “outdoorsy” and a “man’s man.”
Kervin told about a time when a tree log had been brought up after a bonfire. Though everyone tried to cut it, Kennedy was determined to split it in half.
At that time, Kennedy was a pledge of Sigma Chi. He grabbed an ax and began to start chopping it.
He worked on it for 30 to 45 minutes and finally broke the log “without even taking his coat off.”
“It was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen,” Kervin said. “He was very determined, and he wouldn’t quit until the job was done.”