Nothing if not timely, Charlie Minn's documentary "Long Island Railroad Massacre," about the 1993 mass shooting at Garden City's Merillon Avenue station, arrives as similar stories are making headlines with worrisome regularity. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said the average number of mass shooting incidents had tripled in recent years. Then came more, at a Naval base in Tennessee, at Los Angeles International Airport and across the town of Terrell, Texas, to name just a few.
"This was before the era of mass shootings," says Mi Won Kim, who in Minn's film describes her puzzlement at watching news reports from Garden City. She would later learn that her sister, Mi Kyung Kim, was a victim. "It was so beyond the realm of understanding."
"Long Island Railroad Massacre," which airs Dec. 4 in a shorter version on the Investigation Discovery channel, faithfully re-
creates the tragedy, though it doesn't help us understand it any better. Using interviews with survivors and family members, plus brief re-enactments, the movie lays out the facts: As an eastbound 5:33 p.m. train pulled into the station, a passenger named Colin Ferguson began shooting people at random. In the end, he killed six and injured 19. Ferguson, a paranoid personality with a self-aggrandizing streak, went on to defend himself at a near-mockery of a trial. He was sentenced to 315 years and 8 months to life.
Minn covers all the bases, talking with at least a dozen survivors and witnesses, including Robert Giugliano (who famously blew up at Ferguson in court and begged for "five minutes" with him) and Lisa Combatti, who was pregnant when she was shot. Well-known gun-control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband (and whose son, Dennis, was severely injured) gets most of the screen time. Minn clearly agrees with her; his film suddenly joins her cause in its final minutes.
"I honestly to this day can't tell you I really know why this even took place," says Combatti. That's the unvarnished truth from a survivor. In the end, though, there isn't much more that Minn's documentary can add
PLOT A documentary on the 1993 mass shooting at Garden City's Merillon Avenue station. Unrated.
BOTTOM LINE Manhasset Hills native Charlie Minn revisits the tragedy using interviews and re-enactments. No fresh angles or insights, but a serviceable remembrance.