On Saturday afternoon local residents gathered at Mohawk’s Weller Park for a day of remembrance to find a partly cloudy sky making room for a halo surrounding the sun.
“That halo is our families looking down upon us today as we remember them,” said Laura Renshaw, sister-in-law of Michael L. Renshaw, one of the victims killed at Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer during the March 13 shootings who was honored during the Take Back the Day Remembrance Walk.
The walk began at Weller Park, where members of the community could honor and celebrate the lives of those who were lost and those who survived the events of the Herkimer-Mohawk tragedy.
“The walk is a nice way for the community to heal, it’s been really rough for everyone but it’s nice that everyone can come together,” Laura Renshaw said.
Organizer Barbara Bellstedt led the walk, which started down Washington Street to Main Street and proceeded into Herkimer on Mohawk Street to North Main Street and up German Street to Brookwood Park.
“I’ve always enjoyed walking and as it’s gotten warmer I wanted to go, but since the shooting Main Street seemed different and I was afraid to walk in my own community, but my husband told me you can’t do that to yourself,” Bellstedt said. “After talking with my husband about it, I decided not to live in fear and put together a walk to honor and mourn the loss of loved ones as a community.”
Before the walk began, Bellstedt handed out bells to walkers as a way to honor the victims.
“In the movie It’s A Wonderful Life there is a quote that says every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings, and it’s just a nice gesture to help recognize the ones that we have lost,” she said.
Not only was the walk held for local residents, but for everyone affected by the tragedy.
Amanda Kotch, of New Hartford, decided to take part in the walk in honor of her uncle, Harry M. Montgomery. “It’s really heartwarming to see that people came and that people are coming together to heal. It’s nice to know since the shooting people haven’t forgotten and that they are still the remembering those who were lost,” said Kotch.
During the walk wreaths were placed at John’s Barber Shop to honor Harry M. Montgomery, 68, of Mohawk, and Michael G. Rancier, 57, of Herkimer, who were shot and killed at the location. Also shot were John Seymour, owner of the John’s Barber Shop, who has since returned home, and Dan Haslauer who remains hospitalized. Another wreath was placed at Gaffey’s in Herkimer to honor victims Thomas Stefka, an employee, and Michael L. Renshaw.
Page 2 of 2 - A wreath in honor of Ape, the K-9 killed when law enforcement units confronted shooter Kurt Myers, was placed at the former Glory Day’s building in Herkimer.
Once the walkers reached Brookwood Park a balloon release took place, followed by a picnic to complete the Take Back the Day Remembrance Walk.