Commentary: Reflecting on American Civic Association mass shooting 7 years later

Political commentary written on April 4, 2016 at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com by Michael “Vass” Vasquez

For many 7 years is not a large span of time. It doesn’t have a special term like a score (20 years) or a decade (10 years). But for those that have lost a loved one, 7 years may as well be a millennium (1000 years). Which was one of the points raised in the memorial at the American Civic Association (ACA) on April 3, 2016.

It was just 7 years ago when the City of Binghamton, and the nation, was rocked by the then breaking news of a mass shooting. Binghamton became one of the few cities in America to suffer the pain and loss from a troubled individual’s rampage on innocents. 13 lives were lost on that day, and none have been forgotten.

On that sad day in 2009, we reported the on-going situation as follows:

“At 9 AM today at least one, and possible 3 gunmen drove their car against the back door of the Civic Associations building. They then proceeded around the front, entering the building and proceeded to shoot people in the facility. So far reports of at least 4 (possibly more) dead and between 6 and 15 others wounded.” [Initial reporting]

“The older citizens are wondering why this has happened, while I overheard and spoke with several younger citizens that were comparing the events to an action movie.” [Follow-up article]

“Most of the rumors running thru Binghamton right now are nothing more than just that. In a small community where crime is low and such acts unthought-of of, the need to have a cause is rampant. But it is not in the best interest of anyone to believe any of these unsubstantiated facts.” [Final article on 4/3/09]

That was the tone as news developed and facts were learned. It was a somber time. The memorial at the American Civic Association reflected that serious mood, while trying to turn an eye to the current reality and a positive future.
Mayor Rich David spoke to these feelings at the event, noting the loss that was felt across Binghamton and the fact that while the City as a whole has recovered, we have not forgotten. These thoughts were echoed by State Senator Fred Akshar, who at the time of the shooting served as a member of the Binghamton Police Department. But it was the recounting of the trials and tribulations, during and after the mass shooting, from former Mayor Matt Ryan that spoke to how visceral and indelible the emotion of the shooting continues to be upon the entire community.

It was ACA president Mayra Garcia that spoke most directly to the future of the ACA. A path of continued effort to help immigrants and refugees integrating into a new home. Of a community that remains a welcoming destination.
We present the entire video of the American Civic Association memorial, each speaker and all that was said.

After the event we were able to speak with former Mayor Matt Ryan. We asked Mayor Ryan about his reflections on the harsh event from 7 years ago and his outlook today. He stated, in part,

“I think it continues to be part of the healing. Especially for the families to see that people are still not forgetting. They [the people of Binghamton] will continue to get together and honor the memory of their loved ones.” – Former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan

One other thought to consider, also from 7 years ago, was the following closing paragraph written on April 4, 2009

“… And the heartache, the pain, of this event is still just being understood by all of Binghamton. But I believe that this city will overcome this pain, and become a stronger and better city. Because, at the heart of it all, there are heroes and good Samaritans in this city. We will never know all their names, or everything they each did or tried to do. But the fact they exist is a credit to the city and its people.”

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