They came to say goodbye Wednesday to Ray Anthony Wishropp, the grocery manager shot dead last Tuesday during a shooting that wounded two others at a Stop & Shop supermarket in West Hempstead.
They said goodbye in person at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home on Lakeville Road in New Hyde Park, and on Zoom in a mournful gathering of those who'd known Wishropp, 49, of Valley Stream, father of seven and a new grandfather.
"I think Ray's passing has opened our eyes to a better understanding of how we should live and love each other," the eulogist, Ray's brother Vernon Wishropp, said Wednesday, standing before the open coffin, a big round floral arrangement with a huge R in the middle and a red heart flower arrangement, with red streamers.
"Ray was a rich man. Not according to the world … but in how he impacted each and every one of us all. … If we have the opportunity to be selfless, Ray taught us, let's be selfless," he said.
The emotional service took place as the alleged shooter, Gabriel DeWitt Wilson, 31, of Hempstead, awaits his next court appearance, May 12 in Mineola, on charges of one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder.
Nassau County police said Wilson, who was remanded after pleading not guilty last week, fired seven shots from a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun at five people in a store manager's office. Wishropp died and two other employees, a 50-year-old man and 26-year-old woman, were wounded.
Wishropp had worked for Stop & Shop, in various locations, for 30 years. Last week the company, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, announced it was contributing $500,000 to launch the West Hempstead Compassion Fund, with 100% of all donations going to those affected by the tragedy.
Police said they knew of no prior disputes between Wishropp and Wilson, who some described as a disgruntled employee, and said investigators believe they were unknown to each other before the shooting.
All of which was of little solace to those who knew Wishropp.
As cousin Alex Bernard last week told Newsday: "My family's very heartbroken today. We lost a genuine great person."
The outpouring of love was evident Wednesday, despite the limited in-person attendance due to COVID-19 protocols. More than 100 followed on Zoom.
There was a streaming video with remembrances offered by friends and family, accompanied by a photo montage.
On that video, singers offered a stirring rendering of the Leonard Cohen standard, "Hallelujah," followed by a folk singer playing "One Day at a Time" and recorded versions of "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace."
The funeral program noted the birth and passing of Wishropp: "Sunrise, October 14, 1971. Sunset, April 20, 2021."
Masked for the pandemic, tears welling in their eyes, mourners filed past the coffin to say farewell, as those friends and family members who followed the livestream were obviously moved, their pain, sadness and sorrow etched on the faces.
Mournful cries could be heard out of camera range.
Before leading those gathered in The Lord's Prayer, the pastor said: "Lord, may we who mourn be reunited one day with our brother."
Interment was to follow at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale.