Justin and Stephanie Shults were killed in the terrorist attack in Brussels, with the American couple dying just seconds after dropping off Stephanie’s mother and waving goodbye.
The couple had been missing for several days, but this weekend they were confirmed to be among the 31 people killed in the ISIS terrorist attacks. The Belgium residents, who lived in Tennessee and Kentucky, had just taken Stephanie’s mother to check in for a flight when the blasts ripped through the airport.
Family members and co-workers confirmed that Justin and Stephanie Shults were killed, and many remembered them as caring and generous, and a perfect match for each other.
“Today we learned from Stephanie Shults’ family that she and her husband, Justin, were among those killed in the attack on the Brussels airport,” Stephanie’s employer, Mars Inc., wrote on its Facebook page.
“We are mourning the loss of our colleague and friend. Our hearts and thoughts are with their families, and with all those who are suffering during this terrible time,” the company said.
Justin’s brother, Levi Sutton, shared a post remembering both Justin and Stephanie as kind-hearted and worldly.
“We found out today that cowards took my brother’s life just weeks after his 30th birthday,” Sutton tweeted. “I was blessed to have Justin as a big brother. He was smart and kind and generous. I never met a single person that didn’t like him. He worked hard his whole life and achieved goals that most could only dream about. He traveled the world leaving each destination better than when he arrived.”
The couple met at Vanderbilt University, married in 2011, and traveled the world, with Stephanie taking a job in Belgium in 2014.
State Department official confirms deaths of 4 Americans in last week's Brussels bombings. https://t.co/gE15wY6ZVv.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 27, 2016
While family and friends were shocked by their deaths, for Vanderbilt it was the second terrorism-related tragedy in a matter of weeks. Taylor Force, a graduate student, was stabbed to death during a school-sponsored trip to Israel.
School officials reached out after Justin and Stephanie Shults were confirmed dead in the Brussels terrorist attack. Professor Karl Hackenbrack, who was an advisor for both Justin and Stephanie, told The Tennessean that the two were a perfect match.
Hackenbrack remembered Justin as “the consummate team player others could and did depend on,” and said Stephanie was “always sensitive to the needs of others. The one who would identify those on the periphery of (a) group or less socially inclined and extend a genuine welcome and hand of friendship.”
Others at the school remembered Justin and Stephanie.
“It is with great sadness that I report that our fears have been confirmed,” Owen Dean M. Eric Johnson said in an email on Saturday evening reflecting on Justin and Stephanie Shults’ deaths. “The couple met at Owen, developed many lasting friendships here and chose to become global citizens by moving to Belgium for their careers. Faculty and staff remember the pair as genuine, kind, and loving — leaving Owen on a shared adventure that stretched them both professionally and personally.”
Their deaths also brought statements from state and federal officials, including Sen. Bob Corker who said he was “heartbroken” by their deaths.
Officials in Belgium have moved quickly on their investigation, arresting three men on terrorism charges over the weekend. This comes after two others were arrested earlier in the week and charged with “involvement in the activities of a terrorist group.”
Man suspected of producing fake documents for both Paris and Brussels attackers arrested in Italy https://t.co/mRkgk73PPF
— RT (@RT_com) March 27, 2016
Family members of Justin and Stephanie Shults had been waiting anxiously for days after the terrorist attack before the couple was finally confirmed dead.
[Photo by Michel Spingler/AP Images]