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Barber who survived Herkimer County shooting spree speaks out
MOHAWK, N.Y. (WKTV) - March 13 began like any other day for John Seymour.
He opened his barber shop in Mohawk at 9 a.m. where three customers were waiting. Shortly after, as he was cutting customer Harry Montgomery’s hair, when a man walked in. He was familiar; a former customer.
“He goes, 'do you remember me? I’m (Kurt)’," Seymour recalled. "I said 'what is that, an umbrella or something?’ And then he shot me."
An equally horrific sequence of events followed
“So when I fell, I fell in front of the chair and then down by the cash register and then poor Harry, he went to get up and that's when he....when Harry stood up he shot him. And then Harry landed on top of me”.
One minute, John Seymour was cutting a client’s hair. The next, he was lying on the floor of his barber shop, bleeding, playing dead in order to survive.
“And so when I was down there, I just said the Lord's prayer and I said 'just don't breathe in and out because maybe if he sees you breathe he'll shoot you again.’ So I stopped breathing."
Seymour estimates that it was only about 6-7 minutes from the time gunman Kurt Meyers left the barber shop to when paramedics came.
He says it felt like much longer. As he lay there, Seymour realized he did remember Myers. He had cut his hair for about two years, between 2004 and 2006.
Seymour remembered Myers being odd, but says there was nothing to indicate he’d be standing in his shop, seven years later, trying to shoot him to death.
“He was unusual. He was very jittery. I remember I went to trim his beard, because he wanted to get his beard trimmed, and I turned the clippers on and I went like this and [Myers moved out of the way of the clippers]. I said, 'what's the matter?' He goes, 'I don't want it shaved off' and I go, 'no no this is a one and a half’ and he was fine. He gave me a tip and everything”.
Seymour was shot in his left hand. A bullet entered his right side and went through his back. He wears a drain for that wound, and also, a sponge, which massages the wound in order to bring it to his back’s surface where doctors can suture it. He is expected to make a full recovery.
For Seymour, the bigger struggle is less obvious; chasing away the horrific images that he witnessed and which still plague him every day.
“I'm afraid of being alone. That's the one thing I don't like. In the barber shop, there were times, if you weren't busy you'd just sit there and have a cup of coffee and read the paper".
Amidst those moments of terror, there are moments of joy when Seymour can feel the love of a community that supports him in his recovery.
“Unreal. I must have three to four-hundred get- well cards from people, and people that I went to high school with.."
While people will speculate for years as to why Kurt Myers walked into John’s Barber Shop and shot four people, this shooting survivor says there is only one possible ‘reason’ for the crime.
“The only thing is, he just was off his rocker...”.
And being a shooting survivor has given Seymour a unique perspective, not necessarily on gun control, but rather, how to stop gun crimes.
“’Got to do something about these guns,' he said of some people's stance on the subject. "No. They've got to do something about these mentally ill people”.
Seymour is grateful for the full recovery doctors tell him he can look forward to.
“It’s like I’m born again. Just like you have a new...God has something for you to do, John , whether it was volunteering like I was doing before...or anything, taking care of my mother".
“I just think that was not my time yet".