Weller Park was dusted with snow and the temperature was frigid Thursday night, but that didn’t stop about 200 people from coming out for a vigil to mourn those who died in Wednesday’s tragic shooting spree.
People of all ages came in pairs, in groups and alone to the event, which was organized by three young women still in their teens but looking for a way to make sense of the horrific chain of events that had unfolded the day before.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to sleep in our own beds,” Frieda Watkins, 17, told those assembled in front of the park’s gazebo. “Together we make a family. You are all my brothers and sisters.”
Among those present were members of the Mohawk Volunteer Fire Department, some of whom were fighting the fire that shooter Kurt Myers had set. Shortly after the fire started, their fellow firefighter Harry Montgomery Sr. was killed at John’s Barbershop in Mohawk.
“Harry was my neighbor,” firefighter Robert Smith said. “He was a great guy.”
Standing not far away was Maddie Renshaw, 13, niece of Michael Renshaw, who was killed at Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer.
As she held back tears, the young girl remembered her uncle as “a really funny guy who was loved by everybody.”
Most of those interviewed at the vigil knew at least one of the victims, and were visibly shaken by what had happened.
Steve Carter had been a customer at John’s Barbershop for 30 years.
“I’m in total shock,” he said. “He is a great guy, the greatest guy.”
Barbershop owner John Seymour and customer Dan Haslauer were shot but survived. Seymour is in fair condition and Haslauer is in critical.
In addition to Montgomery and Renshaw being killed, Thomas Stefka and Michael Ransear also were shot to death in the rampage.