John Seymour stepped up to the podium during the 8th annual Window of Hope Award Luncheon on Thursday, reciting phrases from the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
“'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me,'” he recited. “'I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.'”
Then he began to talk about the events that unfolded inside his barbershop on March 13, which would eventually reverberate throughout the Mohawk Valley.
“I was a little blind that day,” he said. “I was just going through life like everyone else.”
Seymour and fellow Window of Hope recipient Dan Haslauer were injured when Kurt Myers, of Mohawk, opened fire at John's Barbershop that day. Myers went on to kill Harry Montgomery, Sr., and Michael Ransear at the barbershop, and then Michael Renshaw and Thomas Stefka at Gaffey's Fast Lube on Mohawk Street in Herkimer.
Myers holed himself up at the former Glory Days bar on North Main Street in Herkimer, where he had a standoff with police during the night. The following morning, Myers shot and killed FBI K-9 Ape. Police returned fire and killed Myers.
Every year, Catholic Charities of Herkimer County recognizes individuals and organizations throughout the community for their inspiration. Haslauer and Seymour received the individual recognition during this year's luncheon.
Seymour said following the events, he's had a chance to “see how wonderful our community is.”
“On behalf of Dan and myself, we'd like to thank you all very, very much,” he said.
Haslauer declined to comment during the luncheon.
The group award went to the several emergency agencies that responded that day.
Among the agencies recognized for their response to the shootings were the Little Falls Fire and Police departments, the Mohawk Fire and Police departments, the Herkimer Fire and Police departments, the Ilion Fire and Police departments, MOVAC, Herkimer County Community College Campus Security, the Herkimer County Sheriff's Department and the New York State Police.
Several legislators and representatives who attended the luncheon awarded certificates to the honorees. Sarah Bormann, director of community outreach for U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, also had certificates for the victims' families, however, none were present during the luncheon.
“It's totally understandable why the families aren't here,” said Terry Leonard, executive director of Catholic Charities for Herkimer County. “These gentlemen will live in our thoughts and prayers forever.”
The Catholic Charities chapter has several assistance programs, such as WIC, a food pantry, nutrition outreach and education programs, a domestic violence program and a runaway and homeless youth program.