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An interfaith service is scheduled this evening in Binghamton, New York, as that city tries to make sense of the mass shooting on Friday. Thirteen people were killed when a gunman, a Vietnamese immigrant, opened fire in a citizenship class. The man then killed himself. The crime has shocked residents of Binghamton, none more so than members of it's immigrant community. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR: At the Hang Phat grocery store on Main Street in Binghamton, Tan Nguyen(ph) stands among cartons of fish sauce and big bags of rice.
Mr. TAN NGUYEN: This store not only sell to Vietnamese, we sell to Chinese, you know, Laotian - all the immigration here - Thailand people, you know, Middle East people, Iraq, Iran. You know, they're all coming here.
NAYLOR: Reporters and photographers have come here, too, asking if anyone knew the shooter, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong. It turns out his family has often shopped here. Nguyen doesn't know what to make of the massacre.
Mr. NGUYEN: I don't know. I don't know how to answer. I feel a little bit sad for community. They're a good family. The family come here quite often. Like, at least once, not twice a week.
NAYLOR: Shawn Quoc, who also works at the store, ran into Wong at the gym recently. He said Wong had just returned from California where he was driving a truck, but Quoc cannot answer the question on everyone's mind: why?
Mr. SHAWN QUOC: I don't know why he killed. You know, yesterday I cannot sleep. I'm thinking about him. I don't know why. I did not answer why. I don't know why.
NAYLOR: The immigrant community in Binghamton is small and the first stop for many new arrivals is the American Civic Association. It's a volunteer-based organization whose only mission is to help immigrants - teach them English, help them fill out forms, teach them to become Americans.
Jiverly Wong took classes there for a while, dropping out last month. Why he returned on Friday, carrying two handguns, a sack full of ammunition and wearing a bulletproof vest can only be guessed. The president of the association's board, Angela Leach, had no answers.
Ms. ANGELA LEACH (Board President, American Civic Association): That this tragedy should have happened in our community, to our friends who only wanted to advance their knowledge and love of America, is unbearable. We are stricken with grief and share this grief with the victims' families, our community and the entire nation.
NAYLOR: Four people were wounded in the attack. All are expected to survive. Police are calling one of the survivors a hero - a 61-year-old receptionist who was wounded, played dead and called police on a cell phone. People taking classes at the association were from Haiti, and China and Kurdistan. Police say Wong was upset. He'd been laid off from a job at Shop-Vac. When the plant closed, he complained that his unemployment wasn't enough to live on. Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said Wong felt mocked because he didn't speak English well enough.
Mr. JOSEPH ZIKUSKI (Police Chief, Binghamton, New York): From the people close to him, that what this action that he took was not a surprise to them. We picked up that he was - apparently people were making fun of him. He felt that he was being degraded because, from what we get, his inability to speak English, and he was upset about that.
NAYLOR: Wong lived with his sister and parents just outside Binghamton. There will be an interfaith memorial service at a middle school in Binghamton tonight as this community of immigrants tries to make sense of the senseless.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, Binghamton, New York.
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