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Remembering the Long Island Rail Road massacre 30 years later

Remembering the LIRR massacre 30 years later
Remembering the LIRR massacre 30 years later 03:27

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Thirty years ago, a gunman opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road car, turning the evening commute into a massacre on Dec. 7, 1993.

Three decades later, the nation grapples with mass shootings on a regular basis.

It's the subject of a new CBS New York documentary, "The 5:33 - Legacy of the LIRR Massacre," produced by Carolyn Gusoff, who covered the shooting at the time.

A wreath was left at the Merillon Avenue train station in Garden City on Thursday -- the place of so much carnage.

"It was a horrible day that many of us remember as if it was yesterday even though it was 30 years ago," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

It was before we even had the term "active shooter."

"I opened the door. And I said, 'Was my husband killed?' They said yes, and I dropped to the floor," said Joyce Gorycki, wife of victim James Gorycki. "It's 30 years and nothing has been changed. People are still being killed in wherever -- supermarkets, schools. They're killing children. What's wrong with this country?"

Back at the train station, survivors and loved ones of victims remembered the horror when a Brooklyn man opened fire on innocent commuters, striking 25 and killing six of them.

"I saw someone get up and take the gun and start shooting everyone from right to left," said Elizabeth Aviles-Manco, who was shot through the back.

"The shots just kept going off. He wouldn't stop shooting. He just wouldn't stop shooting," one witness said at the time.

Gunman Colin Ferguson's handwritten notes spelled out hatred for everyone he perceived as racist. He would then represent himself in court.

"There were 93 counts to that indictment. Ninety-three counts only because it matches the year 1993," Ferguson said during the trial.

Jennifer McLogan reflects on the LIRR massacre 04:36

Brave passengers who tackled the gunman would face him, along with survivors Ferguson would cross-examine.

"Is it your testimony under Mr. Peck's questioning that you saw no one shot?" Ferguson asked Aviles-Manco during the trial.

"I saw you shooting everyone on the train, OK?" Aviles-Manco said.

Reflecting on the trial 30 years later, Aviles-Manco said, "I just thought it was crazy ... I know you shot me."

Watching the absurdity was jury foreman Delton Dove.

"He actually hurt them more. He shot them, he killed them, now he is hurting them mentally," Dove said in 2023.

Lisa Combatti, who was pregnant when she was shot, still rides the train.

"This is my annual reminder to think about what's really important in life and to think about the victims that didn't make it," she said Thursday.

Carolyn McCarthy -- whose husband was killed and whose son was gravely injured -- became a nine-term member of Congress to reform gun laws. But in the end, she says, "I couldn't face the families anymore."

What is the legacy of the LIRR massacre? Enduring pain for the families, anger over a national stalemate and for those who survived, gratitude.

Watch "The 5:33 - Legacy of the LIRR Massacre" on demand by clicking here.

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