The Times
  • Friends, family share stories of shooting victims

  • Harry Montgomery, Sr.’s big heart.

    Micheal Ransear’s dedication as a correction officer.

    Michael Renshaw’s constant smile.

    Thomas Stefka’s faith and song-writing ability.

    Dan Haslauer’s quiet personality.

    John Seymour’s amazing voice.

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  • Harry Montgomery, Sr.’s big heart.
    Micheal Ransear’s dedication as a correction officer.
    Michael Renshaw’s constant smile.
    Thomas Stefka’s faith and song-writing ability.
    Dan Haslauer’s quiet personality.
    John Seymour’s amazing voice.
    The six men were known for their personalities and contributions to the community, but those qualities were tragically overshadowed Wednesday when they became victims of a shooting that rocked Herkimer and Mohawk.
    Police say 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 at Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer.
    Those killed were:
    * Montgomery Sr., 68, of Mohawk, a volunteer with the Mohawk Fire Department Fire Corps.
    * Ransear, 57, of Herkimer, a retired correction officer at Mohawk Correctional Facility.
    * Renshaw, 51, of Frankfort, a correction officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility.
    * Thomas Stefka, of Herkimer, a Gaffey’s employee.
    Also shot were:
    * Haslauer, of Ilion, still in critical condition
    * Seymour, 66, of Mohawk, the barber shop owner, now in fair condition.
    More than 24 hours after the tragedy, community members, friends and relatives still are shocked and shaken.
    Rich Monahan, 63, of Mohawk, knew Stefka, Montgomery and Renshaw.
    “I never heard any of these guys say a bad thing about anybody,” said Monahan, who also is the commander of Mohawk American Legion Post 25. “It’s ironic that three of the nicest people I’ve ever met get killed in this stupid tragedy.”
    Harry Montgomery, Sr.
    Montgomery, known fondly as “Monty Senior,” was a family man with two daughters, a son and five grandsons, said his daughter, Linda Springer, 44, of Herkimer.
    “My dad was the type of guy who always had a joke to tell,” she said. “He was always smiling and made other people smile. He was just always the life of everything.”
    Montgomery’s wife, Linda Montgomery, had a police scanner and heard there was a fire and shooting in Mohawk and was concerned about him, Springer said.
    Springer’s mom and sister, Kelly Kirk, went to Adirondack Bank in Mohawk and saw Montgomery’s car parked outside the barber shop. They initially thought he was helping with the fire, until police told them otherwise.
    Her brother Harry, Jr. also arrived at the scene seeking information, Springer said.
    “They saw them take out the people who survived it and they didn’t bring my dad out — it was obvious that my dad was not coming out,” she said.
    Today, the family is “lost, confused, angry, upset,” Springer said. “There are so many emotions going on right now.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Montgomery’s wife of 46 years sat solemnly in a chair Thursday. “Right now, I think it’s just numb.”
    One issue: Montgomery and his wife didn’t have insurance.
    “We’re doing everything we can right now to find out how we’re going to respectfully lay my dad to rest,” Springer said.
    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. “It’s a real great loss to us. … He touched a lot of people’s hearts, and it’ll definitely be a hole in the family here.”
    Thomas Stefka
    Stefka was known for being musically inclined — especially in his community and church.
    Tim Fralick, 50, of Herkimer, knew him through the Word Christian Center in Mohawk and performed 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, jeez, it was tough. He was a very community-minded individual. I think it’s a shock to the whole community.”
    Rich Monahan, 63, of Mohawk, worked at the Herkimer County Department of Social Services with Stefka years ago.
    “He had a great sense of humor and not a mean bone in his body,” he said. “He really cared about people.”
    Though it’s been a few years since he attended Herkimer Reformed Church, Stefka is remembered fondly: A member of worship leadership, Stefka played the guitar and sang, even writing songs for Sunday service, 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, said Stefka was an excellent musician and composer.
    “If we were talking about a topic for Sunday service, Thom could write a song for you,” she said. “He had a real faith in God.”
    Michael Renshaw
    Renshaw was a 20-year volunteer for Holly Days, a program that collects toys for children around the holidays.
    “He was a caring guy; he was a big guy,” said Ron Sterling, 64, of Ilion, who runs the program. “He was a big old teddy bear.”
    Sterling considered Renshaw his best friend. They played golf often, 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.
    Page 3 of 3 - He said Renshaw was looking forward to retiring in 13 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.”
    Michael Ransear
    Ransear worked as a correction officer from 1988 to 2006. He worked at four state facilities but spent most of his career at the Mohawk facility in Rome after starting there in 1989.
    Commissioner Brian Fischer of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision issued the following statement in response to the deaths of Renshaw and Ransear:
    “On behalf of the entire staff at DOCCS, Commissioner Fischer extends his deepest condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of Mid-State Correction Officer Mike Renshaw and retired Mohawk Correction Officer Mike Ransear. Both individuals will be remembered for their dedication and daily contributions made throughout their long careers.”
    Ransear’s family declined to comment.
    John Seymour
    Seymour’s sister, Mary Hornett, 69, of New Hartford, got the call that her brother had been shot and immediately drove to the hospital.
    He was hit in the left hand and right hip, she said. He is set to have surgery today.
    “He’s doing very well,” she said. “His mental state is a little shook up, but he’s doing very well.”
    Seymour told her that 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.
    Fralick said Seymour is well known throughout the community for his singing. He knows him through church activities and benefit concerts.
    “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.”
    Dan Haslauer
    Ron Sterling is pulling for Haslauer, whom he knows through the Marine Corp League in Ilion. They also 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.
    Family members could not be reached.