Arizona is more than 2,000 miles away, but ripples from a weekend shooting rampage there touched Schenectady City Hall, where workers on Monday observed a moment of silence for the victims.
Six people died — including federal Judge John Roll — and 14 were wounded, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot through the head when a 22-year-old gunman opened fire during a “Congress on Your Corner” event Saturday in Tucson.
Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton led the observation with more than 40 staff members in the City Hall rotunda. “We are here to abide with the president’s wishes and observe a moment of silence,” he said. He then read the names of the six who died, punctuating each pronouncement with the word “deceased.”
The rotunda fell into silence as staff bowed their heads for about a minute, eyes closed.
A 9-year-old girl killed in the shooting, Christina Taylor Green, came from a baseball family and her father, John Green, played several years in the minor leagues and once played baseball locally with the Albany-Colonie Yankees, newspaper records show.
John Green, the son of former major league manager Dallas Green, arrived in Colonie in July 1989, getting into 20 games for the A-C Yankees as a reliever, according to newspaper records and Baseball-Reference.com.
Amy Hill, a Schenectady finance department administrative assistant, said she used the moment of silence to say a prayer for the families of the victims and for those struggling for their lives. Hill said the shooting shocked her and made her more conscious of her own vulnerability to violence. “It’s scary,” she said.
Commissioner of Public Safety Wayne Bennett called the shooting a terrorist attack. “In standing here, it causes me to return to what happened on Sept. 11, although on a much smaller scale,” he said.
What happened in Tucson “staggers me and leaves me with a sick feeling that these people’s lives were cut short, and for what?” Bennett said.
The victims are fighting for their lives because “they spoke their minds and for what they represented,” Bennett said, adding the act is terrorism because it was politically motivated. “We need to express outrage that America will not tolerate this,” he said.
Despite the tragedy in Arizona, the city does not plan to step up security at City Council meetings, Bennett said. “We have no intelligence to indicate the need to make changes to security,” he said.
President Barack Obama canceled a visit to Schenectady scheduled for today because of the shooting, deciding instead to focus on mourning the victims. The U.S. House of Representatives also canceled a vote Wednesday on repealing health care reforms adopted by Congress last year. Giffords was an advocate of the reform legislation, which granted health care to 30 million people.
Stratton said the White House notified him of the cancellation of Obama’s trip over the weekend. “The president did absolutely the right thing in canceling the trip to Schenectady and will reschedule,” he said. “He did the right thing in leading the nation in mourning.”