A parade was held Sunday to bring the community together after an April 20 shooting at the West Hempstead supermarket. Police have charged a disgruntled employee with killing the manager and wounding two others. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

They revved their engines and blared their horns as they rolled through West Hempstead, past Stop & Shop employees who had watched their workplace morph into a crime scene last month and relatives of the store manager killed in the tragedy.

The car parade Sunday was the latest effort to bring the community together after the April 20 shooting at the West Hempstead supermarket, where a disgruntled employee killed the manager and wounded two others.

"You hear about these things happening in the news, and you never think for a moment it's going to be in your own backyard," said Rebecca Binstock, a West Hempstead resident and one of the parade's organizers. "I wanted to find a way to use a tragedy to unify people, and spread love, and show people that we can get through this. West Hempstead is strong and we're going to be OK."

Dozens of vehicles proceeded down Hempstead Turnpike past the store Sunday afternoon, including West Hempstead fire trucks, Nassau County police vehicles, and a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and other exotic cars.

Store workers and relatives of the slain manager, Ray Anthony Wishropp of Valley Stream, watched from the side of the road, many wearing shirts that read "Small Town, Big Hearts."

Wishropp's family members declined to comment.

Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, of Hempstead, a shopping cart attendant at the store, was charged with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder in the shooting.

Wilson, who has pleaded not guilty, allegedly fired seven shots from a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun at five people in a store manager's office. Wishropp, 49, died and two other employees were wounded.

"It was kind of devastating," said Laverne Thomas-Roberts, a longtime cashier at the store who watched the car parade on Sunday. She described Wishropp as a "gentle soul."

"That was his typical face," she said, pointing over to a photo of a smiling Wishropp surrounded by flowers.

The car parade was a meaningful reminder, Thomas-Roberts said, that her community can bind together in moments of hardship.

"It just shows me there's more love and spirit than I ever realized before," she said. "I feel proud to be part of West Hempstead."

After the parade, store employees and members of Wishropp's family lit wicks inside floating lanterns, sending them aloft into the sky. They wafted over the grocery store, their sides scribbled with messages that read "Forever Ray" and "Fly High Ray."

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