More than 24 hours after Wednesday’s tragic shooting in Herkimer and Mohawk, community members, friends and relatives of the victims are still “shook up.”
Police believe Kurt Myers, 64, set fire to his Mohawk home in the morning before shooting four people — two fatally — at John’s Barbershop in Mohawk.
He then killed two more people, an employee and a customer, at Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer.
The victims at the barber shop were:
• Harry Montgomery, Sr., 68, of Mohawk, deceased
• Michael Ransear, 57, of Herkimer, a retired correction officer at Mohawk Correctional, deceased
• John Seymour, 66, of Mohawk, the barber shop owner, injured, now in fair condition
• Dan Haslauer, of Ilion, injured, now in critical condition
The victims at Gaffey’s were:
• Michael Renshaw, of Frankfort, a correction officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, deceased
• Thomas Stefka, a Gaffey’s employee, deceased
Rich Monahan, 63, of Mohawk, knew Stefka, Montgomery and Renshaw through community events.
He heard about the incident Wednesday morning after his son walked by the barber shop and his daughter-in-law, who works at Cuts & Colors, saw what happened at Gaffey’s across the street.
“I never heard any of these guys say a bad thing about anybody,” said Monahan, who is also the commander of Mohawk American Legion Post No. 25. “It’s ironic that three of the nicest people I’ve ever met get killed in this stupid tragedy.”
This is what we've learned about the victims so far:
Seymour’s sister, Mary Hornett, 69, of New Hartford, got the call that he was shot and immediately drove to the hospital — before he even arrived.
Seymour was hit in the left hand and in the right hip, she said. “He’s doing very well. His mental state is a little shook up, but he’s doing very well.”
Seymour is set to have surgery Friday, Hornett said. “He could move his fingers I saw when I went in to visit him.”
They don’t yet know the extent of the damage, she said.
Seymour told her Myers walked into the shop and said, “Hi do you remember me?” to which Seymour replied, “How ya doing, Kurt?”
Then the shooting began.
Seymour used to cut Myers’ hair, but hadn’t seen him in a year or two, Hornett said.
Seymour is well known throughout the community for his singing ability.
Tim Fralick, 50, of Herkimer, knew Seymour through church activates and benefit concerts He said he was thankful to hear Seymour was in fair condition.
“John is a community-minded guy. I’ve sung with him,” he said. “John is just a super guy, an all-around good person. You don’t expect it to happen to people like that.”
Page 2 of 3 - Harry Montgomery, Sr.
Monahan knew Montgomery for about 40 years, he said. “He was always upbeat and had a very wonderful sense of community involvement, especially with the Mohawk Fire Department,” Monahan said. “He was just a great guy.”
Mohawk Fire Chief Dan Mabbett knew Montgomery for about 20 years and worked with him for about four years when he was a Fire Corps volunteer.
“He was a very outgoing guy, very friendly — a super great guy,” Mabbett said.
Montgomery was involved with raffles and always sold the most tickets for the department, he said.
“He was always here to give out a hand whenever it was needed. He would show up when we didn’t need him; he was always there,” Mabbett said.
Mabbett said Montgomery’s death is hard on the department.
“It’s a real great loss to us,” he said. “He was loved by a lot of people here in the department. He touched a lot of people’s hearts and it’ll definitely be a hole in the family here.”
Stefka was known by many as being musically inclined — especially in his community and church.
Fralick knew him through the Word Christian Center in Mohawk and even sang with him.
“He played the guitar and sang. We’ve done benefits together and I was shocked to hear the news,” Fralick said. “When I saw his name listed as one of the people, geesh, it was tough. He was a very community-minded individual. I think it’s a shock to the whole community.”
Though it’s been a few years since he attended Herkimer Reformed Church, Stefka is still remembered fondly.
A member of worship leadership, Stefka played the guitar and sang, even writing songs for Sunday service, Sunday school or as an offering, said the Rev. Mark Andersen.
“He’s still very much remembered here and there will be people who will feel that loss very deeply,” Andersen said.
Church member Maria Fiorentino, 50, of Herkimer remembers working with Stefka as a member of the choir.
“If we were talking about a topic for Sunday service Tom could write a song for you,” she said. “He was an excellent musician and an excellent composer. He had a real faith in God.”
Monahan said he met Renshaw through a neighbor more than 20 years ago.
He always saw him at golf outings, Monahan said, describing Renshaw as charitable.
“He was very outgoing, another guy that was always smiling,” he said.
One way Renshaw gave back was as a 20-year volunteer for Holly Days, a program that collects toys for kids in the Mohawk Valley around the holidays.
Page 3 of 3 - “He was a caring guy; he was a big guy. He was a big old teddy bear,” said Ron Sterling, 64, of Ilion, who runs the program.
“He’d give the shirt off his back to help someone,” he said. “He’s helped me out a thousand times picking up toys and distributing toys.”
Sterling often golfed with Renshaw and the two would go out for drinks. Renshaw had “the gift of gab,” he said, and was “just a ball of fun with anybody.”
“When he met anybody he wouldn’t just shake your hand, he’d have to give you a big hug and a kiss,” he said.
He said Renshaw was looking forward to retiring in 18 months and had plans to spend his summers in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Brandon Smith, superintendent at Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy, said Renshaw was a hard worker, who came to the facility in 1992.
“He was very well liked, very personable and very professional,” he said. “He took pride in his job and in his life.”
He said the facility is like one big family, “so when you lose someone like this, it’s a shock to whole facility. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Sterling is pulling for Dan Haslauer, who he knows through the Marine Corp League in Ilion. They also both attended Ilion High School.
Haslauer, who is in his mid-60s, is retired from Remington Arms.
“He’s a very quiet guy, but an outstanding person,” Sterling said.