KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The family of the 23-year-old who died after a shooting at Rural King in Halls is taking the time to remember their loved one.

The victim was identified on Friday, Dec. 23 as Tristan M. Smith. His mother is recalling the day as she plans funeral arrangements for her son.

“Without God keeping me going every single day, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Sandy Remington said.

Remington said even when he was little, Tristan was dependable.

“He had a calming nature about him,” Remington said. “He had a great sense of humor, full of laughter, full of life.”

At four, Tristan was diagnosed with autism and found comfort in playing with animals.

“He really loved horses. That was his favorite and always wanted a horse. After we moved to Knoxville, I took him to the Therapeutic Riding Academy for a while,” his mom said.

Tristan went to Halls High School where he played football and was in theatre.

“I would go to all his plays and it was just so fun to watch him perform,” his mom said. 

He graduated in 2018 and went to Pellissippi State for two years while working part-time.

“He started working at Rural King, I want to say three years ago,” she said. 

When he was not working, he was learning new languages. He wanted to travel to Europe and Japan. However, all of those plans were cut short.

On Thursday, Remington got a call and a message on Facebook from a stranger telling her she needed to call Rural King. She did, but there was no answer.

It wasn’t until she got to the store that a deputy pulled her aside and told her the news.

“He took me to the back room and told me that Tristan had gone after a shoplifter and he was shot, and he didn’t make it,” Remington said.

Tristan is her third son whose been killed. Her other two sons Shawn Smith, 23, and Samuel Smith,18, were both killed in two separate car accidents several years ago.

Remington just spent Christmas without another son.

“[It’s] very difficult. And that’s an understatement. A huge understatement. It’s a couple of days before Christmas, and of course, we had, I just wrapped his Christmas presents and put them under the tree the day before,” she said through her tears.

She spent part of her Christmas Eve and Christmas at the funeral home.

“I’m not surprised that he did what he did. I’ve been told he’s a hero. I rather have him here though than be a hero. But I’m not surprised he went after him.”

Remington added Tristan was dependable and that he left a mark on all who knew him. His mom found comfort in that.

“He’s left a huge impact on many many people and my prayer is that that will be remembered,” she said. “He will be remembered.”