POSTED: 06:08 a.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 12:12 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013
HERKIMER, N.Y. » SWAT teams with an armored vehicle and a track-driven robot with a camera on top moved in on a row of shops where authorities believe a gunman who killed four people and wounded two others may have been hiding this afternoon.
Police positioned in front of Glory Days Food and Spirits in the village of Herkimer were looking for Kurt Myers, suspected of shooting four people in his hometown, nearby Mohawk, and killing two others in Herkimer earlier in the day.
Myles Smith, who lives in one of the apartments above the shops, told The Associated Press by cellphone he had heard police trying to talk to Myers.
"The snipers on the roof are sitting there," Smith said. "I ain't seen a whole lot of movement. I heard about five gunshots. I keep hearing them trying to talk him out, but I don't think he's coming out."
Police say 64-year-old Myers opened fire at a car wash and a barbershop this morning, killing four people and wounding at least two others. A college and schools were locked down and people were told to stay indoors as Myers remained at large.
Gunshots were heard at about 1:30 p.m. as SWAT and other police surrounded a block of businesses with upstairs apartments in Herkimer.
Michele Mlinar, who tends bar at Cangee's Bar and Grille in Herkimer, said Myers frequently came in and had a bottle or two of Coors Light and left without speaking to anyone. She said he was always alones and that she didn't even know his name until police released his mug shot today.
"He was just an odd little man," said Candy Rellin, owner of Cangee's.
Guns and ammunition were found inside Myers' Mohawk apartment after emergency crews were sent to put out a fire there this morning.
Soon after, two people were fatally shot and two others wounded at John's Barber Shop, around the corner from the apartment, police said. The second shooting happened about a mile away in Herkimer, where two people were killed at Gaffey's Fast Lube and Car Wash, authorities said.
The two villages are about 65 miles east of Syracuse, on opposite sides of the Mohawk River in a region known as the Mohawk Valley.
James Baron, the 29-year-old mayor of Mohawk, said he doesn't know Myers but knew several of the people who were shot, including "at least" two of the barbershop victims. The mayor described his village as close-knit and friendly, "the kind of place where you'd say, 'Oh, it would never happen here."'
Herkimer County Community College and local schools were on lockdown. The college sent an automated cellphone alert around 10:40 a.m., telling students and staff that there was an "active shooter" in the area. The message identified the gunman as a man in his 60s, with a white beard and driving a red Jeep Cherokee. A text alert a few minutes later said the campus was on lockdown. Another alert advised people to remain inside buildings until further notice.
Amanda Viscomi, Herkimer's acting clerk-treasurer for the village of 7,700, told The Associated Press the shooting at Gaffey's happened a few blocks from village hall. She said she was told the shooter was at large and that state police, sheriff's deputies and other police were swarming the area.
"Everybody's on lockdown, all the schools, the college, the village," Viscomi said. "It's very, very scary."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the head of the state police arrived in the area this afternoon and were expected to brief the media later in the day.
Herkimer is named for the German immigrant family that settled in the western Mohawk Valley in the 1720s. The economically distressed villages are two miles away from Ilion, where a 2-century-old Remington Arms gun plant is a major employer.