State and local officials, along with area residents, gathered in the Herkimer County Community College gymnasium Tuesday evening to remember the victims of the March shootings in Mohawk and Herkimer and to honor all those who served during the events of March 13 and 14.
Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent J. Bono, who served as master of ceremonies for the Day of Reflection and Recognition ceremony, called the shootings “a tragic, senseless act that left four men dead and two more seriously injured.” He added, “This horrific event shattered our sense of security. Many of us never thought anything like this would ever happen here.”
He asked for a moment of silence in memory of Michael G. Ransear and Harry M. Montgomery, Sr., who were killed at John’s Barber Shop in Mohawk, and for Michael S. Renshaw and Thomas E. Stefka, who were killed at Gaffey’s Fast Lube in Herkimer. He also wished survivors Dan Haslauer and John Seymour “a swift and complete recovery” and extended thoughts and well wishes to those who lost their homes in a fire on March 13.
Attending the event on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo was Mary Kavney, assistant director of public safety for the governor’s office. She said she had read about the incidents, about the men killed and about the fundraisers and other events that followed.
“You should be proud,” she said.
She also praised those who responded to the emergency.
“My whole career I have worked with first responders,” she said. “They always think first about others. They came in and stopped the madness and protected the rest of the community.”
Matthew Scolin, representing Congressman Bill Owens, read a letter from Owens which stated, “There’s an Irish tradition that as long as a person’s name is pronounced, he will live forever,” and he read the names of the victims.
Herkimer County Clerk Sylvia Rowan read a letter from Congressman Richard Hanna that included a proclamation by Congress declaring May 21 a Day of Reflection and Recognition.
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and state Sen. James Seward also sent letters that were read during the service.
State Assemblyman Marc Butler, R - Newport, said he was in Albany when his staff members notified him of the shootings on March 13. His district office, not far from the former Glory Days building where shooter Kurt Myers was holed up, was on lockdown.
“When I saw Chief (Joseph) Malone, he said, ‘It looks like the world has come to Herkimer.’” He spoke of those who were killed, including FBI K-9 Ape who was shot and killed when special teams entered the building where Myers was hiding. “It was a sad day, a tragic day, but in many ways a heroic day for our first responders,” said Butler.
Page 2 of 2 - Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter praised those who responded and spent time in frigid temperatures securing the scene and keeping community members safe. He called the joint operation between various law enforcement units “awe inspiring.”
While much of the focus has been on the outside units that came in, Carpenter said, the local police departments have sometimes been forgotten.
“If it was not for our local police departments, who cornered the shooter and secured the perimeter,” he said, the events could have ended far differently.
“We are a community that is generous and caring,” said Herkimer Mayor Mark Ainsworth. “The Mohawk Valley is still a great place to live.”
Herkimer and Mohawk Police Chief Joseph Malone spoke of those who had helped in various ways. Herkimer County Community College opened its facility to those who had been displaced and the Mohawk village office and employees helped those displaced by the fire Myers set in the apartment building where he lived on Washington Street. He also spoke of all of those law enforcement agencies and individuals who responded. One officer had recently had surgery, but came in to help until the pain became too great. He also received calls from other communities offering assistance, including one from a department that only had a total of five members.
“I’m proud to have worked with all of you through that event,” he said to those gathered.
Malone also expressed his condolences to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, the same team that responded to the crisis here, on the loss of two of its agents, Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw, who were killed during a training exercise off the coast of Virginia.
Bono presented plaques expressing the community’s gratitude to the various agencies that responded to assist in the crisis.
The Mohawk Valley Frasers and the Mohawk Valley Choral Society provided music for Tuesday’s event.