GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Saturday marked 20 years since the Long Island Rail Road massacre, which left 16 people dead and more than a dozen wounded when a gunman opened fire inside a train full of passengers.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, a wreath-laying ceremony Saturday morning marked the anniversary. Several other events were also planned.
There were tears in the eyes of some of the family members as they attached the wreaths to the platform of the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City Saturday, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Joyce Gorycki’s husband, James, was slain in the massacre.
“My husband was a wonderful person. He was Mr. Nice Guy,” Gorycki said. “He was a loving husband, a loving father, and he should have never died the way he did.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) lost her husband, Dennis, in the massacre. Her son, Kevin, was also wounded, but survived and is now married with two children.
“Kevin — he’s having a tough time,” McCarthy said. “It brings back memories that obviously he doesn’t want to remember but there’s never any closure. There’s never closure.”
McCarthy, who is now undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, would focus on gun control as the platform for her successful run for Congress in 1996. Gorycki has since become the local chair of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
A gunman opened fire on a train car filled with commuters leaving New York City. By the time passengers tackled Colin Ferguson, his fusillade had left six people dead and 19 wounded.
Ferguson, who boarded the train in Queens, claimed that he waited to open fire until the train crossed over the New York City limits out of respect for David Dinkins, the mayor at the time.
He fired methodically over several minutes, reloading at least once, before the train arrived at the next station, where terrified survivors ran screaming from the exits.
“He emptied his gun out, just randomly shooting people in the head and neck,” one man said at the time. “He then reloaded.”
The train was approaching the Merillon Avenue station during the height of rush hour at the time.
“I heard some pops, and thought it was a car backfiring behind me,” said shooting victim Lisa Combatti.
Combatti was among the 80 passengers onboard that evening, and came face-to-face with Ferguson as he fired 30 shots.
For passengers, there was no escape.
“I could see Colin Ferguson walking down the aisle, shooting from right to left, back and forth,” Combatti said.
At his trial, Ferguson would fire his own defense team and instead chose to represent himself, cross-examining his victims on the witness stand.
Ferguson, now 55, is serving his sentence at the Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, N.Y., not far from the Canadian border.
In addition to six consecutive terms of 25 years to life, he received the maximum of 50 years for 19 counts of attempted murder, two weapons charges and one of reckless endangerment. He is eligible for parole in the year 2309.
Earlier this week, a new documentary featuring McCarthy debuted at the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington. Victims of the shooting were expected to attend a special screening of the film on Saturday.
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