April 3, 2024, marks 15 years since tragedy hit Upstate New York and yet, I still vividly remember where I was when the news broke that there was a mass shooting at the American Civic Association in Binghamton. Do you remember where you were?

April 3, 2009, started like any other but would end with a horrific act of violence that would forever scar a community and would go down in history as the day that the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in the state of New York took place.

15 years ago, the American Civic Association in Binghamton became the site of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of 13 innocent people and left several others wounded. This tragic event, perpetrated by Jiverly Antares Wong, shocked not only our local community but all of America.

American Civic Association Mass Shooting

Around 10:30 a.m. on April 3, Jiverly Wong, a 41-year-old naturalized American citizen of Vietnamese origin, entered the American Civic Association building, barricading the rear door with a vehicle. He was armed and wore a bulletproof vest, a bright green jacket, and dark-rimmed glasses.

Wong began his deadly rampage by firing at people in his path, aiming his weapon at individuals within the facility. Tragically, two receptionists were among the first victims. One was fatally shot in the head, while the other, wounded in the stomach, managed to feign death and call 911, providing crucial information to authorities.

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Wong then entered a classroom where an English as a Second Language (ESL) class was underway. Thirteen people in the room, including the professor, fell victim to his indiscriminate gunfire. Wong then took several other individuals hostage.

Law enforcement responded to the scene immediately. Upon hearing the alarms, Wong ended his own life by shooting himself, approximately three minutes after commencing the attack. It was later determined that Wong had fired a total of 99 rounds from two semi-automatic pistols.

American Civic Association Aftermath and Investigation

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the police secured the premises and rescued the hostages. The community was left grief-stricken, grappling with the magnitude of the loss and the senselessness of the act.

Authorities conducted a thorough investigation into Wong's background, attempting to unravel the motives behind his heinous actions. It was revealed that Wong had a history of erratic behavior, including expressing feelings of being degraded and disrespected due to his limited English language skills. He also faced difficulties in finding employment, which may have contributed to his frustration.

Claims made by the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, suggesting responsibility for the shooting, were ultimately dismissed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Evidence pointed to Wong acting alone as the lone gunman.

Community Response Following American Civic Association Shooting

The Binghamton shooting left an indelible mark on the community and prompted a collective response in support of the victims and their families. President Barack Obama expressed condolences and condemned the senseless violence, while New York Governor David Paterson ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff.

The survivors and families of the victims had to endure unimaginable grief, with each lost life leaving a void in the community. In the wake of the shooting, efforts were made to provide support, counseling, and resources to help those affected cope with the emotional and psychological trauma.

Victims of the Binghamton Mass Shooting

  • Parveen Ali, a 26-year-old immigrant from northern Pakistan.
  • Almir Olimpio Alves, a 43-year-old Brazilian PhD in Mathematics and visiting scholar at Binghamton University.
  • Marc Henry Bernard, a 44-year-old immigrant from Haiti.
  • Maria Sonia Bernard, a 46-year-old immigrant from Haiti.
  • Li Guo, a 47-year-old visiting scholar from China.
  • Lan Ho, a 39-year-old immigrant from Vietnam.
  • Layla Khalil, a 53-year-old Iraqi mother of three children.
  • Roberta King, a 72-year-old English language teacher.
  • Jiang Ling, a 22-year-old immigrant from China.
  • Hong Xiu "Amy" Mao Marsland, a 35-year-old nail technician from China.
  • Dolores Yigal, a 53-year-old recent immigrant from the Philippines.
  • Hai Hong Zhong, a 54-year-old immigrant from China.
  • Maria Zobniw, a 60-year-old part-time caseworker at the Civic Association.

Wounded in the Binghamton Mass Shooting

  • Shirley DeLucia, a 61-year-old Civic Association receptionist who feigned death and contacted the police.
  • Long Huynh, a 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant.
  • Two additional unidentified individuals.

Binghamton Remembers the American Civic Association Mass Shooting

April 3, 2009, started out like any other but would end with a horrific act of violence that would forever scar a community. Let's look back on the days following the deadly mass shooting at Binghamton's American Civic Association.

Gallery Credit: Traci Taylor

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