A 64-year-old loner sauntered into a barbershop in upstate New York, coolly asked if the man cutting hair remembered him and then opened fire with a shotgun, the first shots in a burst of violence that left four dead and two critically wounded.
Kurt Myers, the suspected gunman, then holed up in an abandoned building which was surrounded by police early Thursday. Police periodically blared sirens in an apparent attempt to encourage Myers to surrender, if alive. Booms also were heard.
John Seymour, one of the men wounded in the attacks told his sister, Mary Hornett, the barbershop attack came out of nowhere.
"He just said that the guys were in the barbershop and this guy comes in and he says, 'Hi John, do you remember me?' and my brother said, 'Yes, Kurt, how are you?' and then he just started shooting," Hornett said.
Hornett said her brother, who was hospitalized in critical condition, was doing well after being shot in the left hand and right hip.
"My brother couldn't think of any reason why he would do such a thing," she said, adding that Myers hadn't been in the shop for a couple of years.
Officers were fired on from the abandoned building on Wednesday afternoon while looking for Myers, state police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said. At least one officer returned fire.
"We're in no rush to bring this to a conclusion," D'Amico said, adding that the main objective was to make sure no one else was hurt.
The shootings shattered the peace of Mohawk and Herkimer, two small villages about 170 miles northwest of New York City, separated by the Mohawk River and the New York State Thruway. Police snipers waited on rooftops on a block of small businesses in Herkimer as they waited for Myers to emerge.
Police said Myers' rampage started with a fire in his apartment in Mohawk at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He then drove to John's Barber Shop around the corner and used a shotgun to kill two customers, D'Amico said, identifying them as Harry Montgomery, 68, and Michael Ransear, 57, a retired corrections officer. In addition to Seymour, the shop's owner, another customer, Dan Haslauer, also was listed in critical condition at a Utica hospital.
The gunman then drove to Gaffy's Fast Lube in nearby Herkimer and used the shotgun to kill Thomas Stefka, an employee, and Michael Renshaw, a customer who was a 23-year veteran of the state Department of Corrections, D'Amico said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a press conference in Herkimer, said the gunman's motive was unknown.
Police had not had any communication with Myers, whose only known police record was a 1973 drunken-driving arrest, D'Amico said.
Neighbors said they barely knew Myers, who rarely spoke. Traci Randall said the only time she remembers speaking to her next-door neighbor was when he yelled at her son because he thought he had shot an air pellet at his Jeep.
"He was kind of a loner. No wife," she said.
Michele Mlinar, a bartender at Cangee's Bar and Grille in Herkimer, said Myers frequently stopped in for a bottle of beer or two, and left without speaking to anyone. She said he was always alone. She hadn't known his name until police released his mug shot on Wednesday.
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