Binghamton tragedy strikes close to home - Catholic Courier

Binghamton tragedy strikes close to home

For Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, the April 3 shooting rampage in Binghamton that claimed 14 lives struck close to home in more ways than one.
 
Since 2007, Catholic Charities has operated the Tompkins County Immigrant Services Program that provides one-to-one support, mentoring and guidance to local immigrants and refugees as well as their families. Meanwhile, the American Civic Association — founded in 1939 and located 50 miles from Ithaca in downtown Binghamton, in the Diocese of Syracuse — offers an array of services to the Broome County-area immigrant and refugee community.
 
On the morning of April 3, the ACA offices on Front Street were the scene of what Gov. David Paterson termed "the worst tragedy in the history of this great city." A Vietnamese immigrant named Jiverly Wong, also known as Jiverly Voong, entered the facility and shot numerous people. Fourteen were ultimately confirmed dead — including Wong from a self-inflicted gun wound — and several more were wounded.
 
Most of the victims were recent immigrants from such countries as Pakistan, Haiti, China, Vietnam, Iraq and the Philippines. Many were taking a citizenship class when the heavily armed Wong entered the classroom and continued his shooting spree that had begun in the ACA’s reception area. Wong, 42, a Johnson City resident, had reportedly had been depressed and out of work.
 
Christine Sanchirico, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, said her office doesn’t maintain a formal relationship with the ACA but that the two entities share a common goal of supporting people who are new to the United States.
 
"We were, of course, quite devastated with the news of this attack. We work with many refugee and immigrant families, several of whom have come to this country to flee violence in their home countries. To have (the Binghamton victims) meet with such a tragic situation, therefore, is even more heart-wrenching," Sanchirico said.
 
"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to express our profound outrage at this senseless act of violence, where innocent people were killed, injured and traumatized. It is time for all of us to come together and end this cycle of senseless violence," Paterson added in an April 3 statement. "The American Civic Association was established for those who wanted to become citizens of the United States of America. This place was a haven for those who wanted to be part of the American Dream. Today, that dream was tragically thwarted. But there still is an American Dream, and all of us who are Americans, or who want to become Americans, will now try to heal the very deep wounds in the city of Binghamton."

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