A LIRR train passes a wreath marking 30 years since the...

A LIRR train passes a wreath marking 30 years since the massacre at the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City on Thursday. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Lisa Combatti curled up in the fetal position, clutching her pocketbook in case police needed to identify her on the 5:33 p.m. LIRR train during a mass shooting 30 years ago.

She was eight months pregnant and traveling home to Garden City after picking out a layette for the daughter she was expecting. Both survived the massacre, and now Combatti is planning her daughter’s wedding. She still commutes on the train to her job as vice president of Deutsche Bank, she said.

“I didn't know what would happen,” Combatti said Thursday standing on the platform at the Merillon Avenue station. “She got engaged this year. That's a wonderful thing. Thirty years later, but I remember a lot of memories that came back to me as to the fact that maybe neither of us would be here.”

“So, 30 years later we're picking out wedding dresses. So it's sort of a full circle,” she said.

Combatti came to the Merillon Avenue station on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of the shooting aboard the Long Island Rail Road train. When it was over, six passengers were dead, 19 others wounded and the shooter, Colin Ferguson, now 65, lay pinned to the floor by three riders. A jury eventually convicted Ferguson, who used a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.

He is imprisoned in Mid-State Correctional Facility in upstate Marcy, serving a sentence of 315 years and 8 months.

“I never felt unsafe on the LIRR until that night. I always watched my back on the subway, but I never expected it there,” Combatti said. “Between New Hyde Park and Merillon Avenue there was such carnage in such a short time.”

Combatti joined other family members, police and elected officials, including Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, to lay a wreath at the train station.

“It was a horrible day that many of us remember, as if it was yesterday, even though it was 30 years ago,” Blakeman said. “It was a terrible tragedy. And when you hear from those who survived, the horror that took place on that train, and hear their stories, it's something that makes you really think twice about the kind of violence that takes place in these mass shootings that are all too frequent around the world.

Joyce Gorycki came to the train platform with her daughter Karen, and laid a wreath, as they do every year, to remember her husband, James Gorycki, and other victims who were killed on the train.

On the night of the shooting, Joyce Gorycki said she saw reports of it on the news and suspected something was wrong when her husband didn’t call or come home from work.

Then the doorbell rang. It was police officers telling her he'd been killed.

“I fell to the floor and they picked me up,” she said.

Karen was 10 years old.

“I missed so many moments. Still, to this day, it's very hard,” she said, recalling all that was lost when her dad died.

“Especially when you're an adult you realize what you've really lost, just thinking of all the moments he's missing.”

On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for a moment of silence in the Senate chamber to commemorate the victims of the shooting.

“It is heartbreaking that the horrors of a tragedy 30 years old still feel like it happened yesterday,” Schumer said.

“I remember the reports well: The 5:33 p.m. rush-hour train from Penn Station, filled with commuters, average working men, going home after a hard day’s work to see their families,” he said. “Moments later, a gunman unleashed carnage. Six dead. Nineteen injured. Many more lives shattered, changed forever,” he said.

Schumer also acknowledged former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Garden City), who won a seat in the House after the LIRR gunman killed her husband and critically wounded her son.

“She served in Congress for 18 years with me and many of my colleagues in this building, and she remained a vocal advocate for stronger gun safety laws,” Schumer said.

In a statement, acting LIRR president Rob Free said that as “we reflect on the somber nature of this anniversary, our hearts remain with those who suffered in that horrific moment and the families who continue to do so. We are also mindful of the security enhancements that resulted in part from what happened that terrible day have proven reassuring to riders in the decades since.”

With Tom Brune and Alfonso Castillo

Lisa Combatti curled up in the fetal position, clutching her pocketbook in case police needed to identify her on the 5:33 p.m. LIRR train during a mass shooting 30 years ago.

She was eight months pregnant and traveling home to Garden City after picking out a layette for the daughter she was expecting. Both survived the massacre, and now Combatti is planning her daughter’s wedding. She still commutes on the train to her job as vice president of Deutsche Bank, she said.

“I didn't know what would happen,” Combatti said Thursday standing on the platform at the Merillon Avenue station. “She got engaged this year. That's a wonderful thing. Thirty years later, but I remember a lot of memories that came back to me as to the fact that maybe neither of us would be here.”

“So, 30 years later we're picking out wedding dresses. So it's sort of a full circle,” she said.

'Such carnage'

Combatti came to the Merillon Avenue station on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of the shooting aboard the Long Island Rail Road train. When it was over, six passengers were dead, 19 others wounded and the shooter, Colin Ferguson, now 65, lay pinned to the floor by three riders. A jury eventually convicted Ferguson, who used a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.

He is imprisoned in Mid-State Correctional Facility in upstate Marcy, serving a sentence of 315 years and 8 months.

“I never felt unsafe on the LIRR until that night. I always watched my back on the subway, but I never expected it there,” Combatti said. “Between New Hyde Park and Merillon Avenue there was such carnage in such a short time.”

Combatti joined other family members, police and elected officials, including Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, to lay a wreath at the train station.

“It was a horrible day that many of us remember, as if it was yesterday, even though it was 30 years ago,” Blakeman said. “It was a terrible tragedy. And when you hear from those who survived, the horror that took place on that train, and hear their stories, it's something that makes you really think twice about the kind of violence that takes place in these mass shootings that are all too frequent around the world.

All that was lost

Joyce Gorycki came to the train platform with her daughter Karen, and laid a wreath, as they do every year, to remember her husband, James Gorycki, and other victims who were killed on the train.

On the night of the shooting, Joyce Gorycki said she saw reports of it on the news and suspected something was wrong when her husband didn’t call or come home from work.

Then the doorbell rang. It was police officers telling her he'd been killed.

“I fell to the floor and they picked me up,” she said.

Karen was 10 years old.

“I missed so many moments. Still, to this day, it's very hard,” she said, recalling all that was lost when her dad died.

“Especially when you're an adult you realize what you've really lost, just thinking of all the moments he's missing.”

On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for a moment of silence in the Senate chamber to commemorate the victims of the shooting.

“It is heartbreaking that the horrors of a tragedy 30 years old still feel like it happened yesterday,” Schumer said.

“I remember the reports well: The 5:33 p.m. rush-hour train from Penn Station, filled with commuters, average working men, going home after a hard day’s work to see their families,” he said. “Moments later, a gunman unleashed carnage. Six dead. Nineteen injured. Many more lives shattered, changed forever,” he said.

Schumer also acknowledged former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Garden City), who won a seat in the House after the LIRR gunman killed her husband and critically wounded her son.

“She served in Congress for 18 years with me and many of my colleagues in this building, and she remained a vocal advocate for stronger gun safety laws,” Schumer said.

In a statement, acting LIRR president Rob Free said that as “we reflect on the somber nature of this anniversary, our hearts remain with those who suffered in that horrific moment and the families who continue to do so. We are also mindful of the security enhancements that resulted in part from what happened that terrible day have proven reassuring to riders in the decades since.”

With Tom Brune and Alfonso Castillo

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