Published March 15, 2013
In the aftermath of a gunman's rampage across two upstate New York villages, details have emerged about the four men who were killed and the two who remain hospitalized after the shootings in neighboring Mohawk and Herkimer. As law enforcement tries to determine why Kurt Myers, 64, opened fire inside two small-town businesses, friends, relatives and co-workers are sharing information about the victims with local media and The Associated Press.
Harry Montgomery Sr., 68, of Mohawk was killed inside John's Barber Shop in his hometown, where another man died and two others were wounded. Fondly known as "Monty Senior," the father of three and grandfather of five was described as someone always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.
"He was a very outgoing guy, very friendly — a super great guy," longtime acquaintance Dan Mabbett, chief of the village's volunteer fire department, told the Observer-Dispatch of Utica.
"My dad was the type of guy who always had a joke to tell," said daughter Linda Springer of Herkimer. "He was always smiling and made other people smile. He was just always the life of everything."
Michael Ransear, a 57-year-old former corrections officer from Herkimer, was the other man killed inside the barber shop. He retired from Mohawk Correctional Facility in nearby Rome in 2006. His family declined to comment.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Fischer said Ransear and Michael Renshaw, a prison guard who was killed in Herkimer, "will be remembered for their dedication and daily contributions made throughout their long careers."
Michael Renshaw, 51, was killed inside Gaffey's Fast Lube and Car Wash in Herkimer. A 23-year veteran of the corrections department, Renshaw worked most of that span at Mid-State Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in nearby Marcy. He was also a 20-year volunteer for a local program that collects toys for children around the holidays.
Ron Sterling, Renshaw's best friend, called him a "big old teddy bear."
"When he met anybody he wouldn't just shake your hand, he'd have to give you a big hug and a kiss," Sterling told the Observer-Dispatch.
He said Renshaw was looking forward to retiring in 13 months and had plans to spend his summers in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Thomas Stefka was also killed inside Gaffey's, where he worked. The father of three was known for his musical talents by friends and fellow worshippers at the Word Christian Center in Mohawk, where he used to sing and play guitar during services.
"You just couldn't ask for a better person and it's hard to understand how something like this could happen to such a nice guy," Shannon Marlowe, a friend of Stefka's, told WSYR-TV in Syracuse.
Rich Monahan and Stefka worked together at the Herkimer County Department of Social Services years ago. "He had a great sense of humor and not a mean bone in his body," Monahan told the Utica newspaper. "He really cared about people."
Renshaw's friend Sterling also knows Dan Haslauer, a customer wounded in the barber shop along with its owner, John Seymour. Both are members of the Marine Corp League in nearby Ilion, where they attended high school. Haslauer, who's in his mid-60s, is retired from the Remington Arms gun plant in Ilion.
"He's a very quiet guy, but an outstanding person," Sterling said.
People in Mohawk know John Seymour as "John the Barber," an upbeat man who took special care with young customers and offered doughnuts in the shop on Saturdays.
"Everyone knows John," Mark Fresco, who runs an apparel shop next door, told the AP. "My kids all got their hair cut there. My father got his hair cut there."
Seymour's talents extend beyond cutting hair. Tim Fralick said Seymour is well known throughout the community for his singing voice.
"John is a community-minded guy. I've sung with him," Fralick told the Observer-Dispatch. "John is just a super guy, an all-around good person. You don't expect it to happen to people like that."