Frigid temperatures didn’t keep more than 150 people of all ages from gathering at the Weller Park Gazebo in Mohawk Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil in memory of the four men killed in Wednesday’s shootings in Mohawk and Herkimer.
Occasional gusts of wind made it difficult for those attending to light their candles and keep them lighted, but with a bit of help from their neighbors, participants relighted the candles and shielded them as best they could.
People gathered in small groups to visit, exchange hugs and remember those who died and were injured in the shootings that rocked the communities some 30-odd hours before.
Killed in the shootings were Harry Montgomery Sr., Michael Ransear, Michael Renshaw and Thomas Stefka. John Seymour and Dan Haslauer were shot and remain hospitalized.
A white cross stood in front of the gazebo and some flowers were placed beside it before the service began.
Frieda Watkins, a Jarvis High School student, who organized the event with the help of friends, addressed the crowd.
“You are my brothers and sisters,” she said. “All of us are brothers and sisters. I know we’re a small community, but that’s why we have to come together and push through the sadness and darkness.”
She urged the crowd to pray for the recovery of those who were injured and still hospitalized and to thank God each day for their families and all the good things in their lives.
Diane Ingraham, a friend from the church Watkins attends, offered a prayer.
Watkins said she decided Thursday morning to organize the vigil. At about 10 a.m., she began sending messages to friends through social media asking them to help. Notification went out primarily through social media, although some people heard about the event through a television announcement.
Watkins said she contacted Mayor Jim Baron and was pleased to receive the go-ahead from him.
When the service was over the crowd disbursed and the vehicles that had crowded the streets around the park departed.
A few of the high school students who attended stopped on their way out to talk with two uniformed Mohawk police officers — and to thank them.