The morning of March 13, 2013, John Seymour was cutting Harry Montgomery Sr.'s hair in his Mohawk barbershop.
"It was just like any other day," remembers the man affectionately known as John the barber. "He came up and just shot us. There was no warning."
The "he" to whom Seymour is referring is Kurt Myers.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the shooting spree by Myers, who shot six people, killing four, in the villages of Herkimer and Mohawk.
Since that fateful day, Seymour has made some changes. He moved his shop to Ilion and now works by appointment only. He once took walk-ins, but not anymore.
"You go on, you just have to," he said. "I'm happy to be alive. It could be a different story."
The tragedy began when Myers set fire to his home at about 9:30 a.m. March 13 and then proceeded to John’s Barbershop in Mohawk where he shot four people, killing two. Mohawk resident Harry Montgomery Sr., 68, and Michael Ransear, 57, of Herkimer, were killed. Seymour and customer Dan Haslauer survived.
Myers then drove to Gaffey’s Fast Lube at 320 Mohawk St. in Herkimer, shooting and killing Thomas Stefka, an employee, and Michael Renshaw, a customer.
Myers later holed himself inside an abandoned hotel above the former Glory Days bar. He fired shots at police and killed a police K-9 named Ape before FBI agents and New York State Police stormed the building at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 14. Police opened fire after shots were traded and killed Myers.
Harry Montgomery Jr. remembers getting ready for the day when his younger sister called him. She initially heard there was a bomb at the barbershop. Later, the truth became clear that his father had been shot and killed.
He barely remembers speeding in a car with a friend toward Mohawk to get to the barbershop.
"I felt like I was running and going nowhere," he said.
"I have been dealing day to day," Montgomery Jr. said about that last five years. "This isn't just about my dad. It's about the four men who died that day. ... I don't want the public to forget."
In an effort to remember and honor the victims, there will be a remembrance walk today that will start at 4:30 p.m. in Weller Park on West Main Street in Mohawk.
Seymour is appreciative of today’s commemoration, but for him that day five years ago still is fresh.
"(I) might be better off to stay away. I remember it every day," he said. "Other than that, everything is going good. It just brings it all back."
While the community comes together today to remember, others look to the world and the never-ending work that is done relating to acts of violence that do not appear to be waning.
"First and foremost, I want the community to remember the victims," said Herkimer County District Attorney Jeff Carpenter. "It saddens me to think that it could happen in our community. No one is immune."
Out of the tragedy, there were lessons learned.
Carpenter said Herkimer County residents have been encouraged to be more watchful of their surroundings.
"Everything that is occurring across the whole nation (in terms of mass violence) is causing people to be more vigilant about reporting things they see that are concerning," he said.
Francis Coots, the former New York State Troop D Commander who retired in 2017, now is the director of campus safety at Hamilton College.
Following the shooting, Coots said there was and after-action report where law enforcement identified details that could be improved.
"One big thing was communication (among law enforcement agencies)," he said.
At that time, not all radios could communicate with each other due to being on different frequencies. Since then, investments have been made throughout the region to get everyone on the same page.
There also has been increased training not only in terms of scene organization but threat elimination in an effort to work more collaboratively and efficiently.
"What's happening is you are constantly training with other law enforcement," he said.
"We have found that these mass shootings are very quick," Coots added. "You have to make a decision at a moment’s notice."
At the time of the shooting, Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi was a village trustee. Since then, he said there is a greater awareness during crisis situations and municipalities work more closely with law enforcement to keep people safe and informed.
"Society has changed. It was an awakening," he said. "We can't just pass a law and fix things. .... This is a bad thing we can't get over. I wish there was an easy answer," he said.